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Drone startups: Fotokite

by
03 July 2014



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Fotokite_Sergei_Lupashin
Although I am amazed with UAVs and their versatility, I must admit that having a flying camera zoom by – and zoom in on me – can be intimidating. Not because the drone has a camera, but because I don’t always know who is behind that camera. If the drone operator were immediately identifiable, however, I would have no problem. That is exactly the issue Fotokite tries to solve.

The idea was developed around the following premises:

  • The regulatory picture is murky and evolving – note that the FAA will likely miss the 2015 deadline for setting a UAV regulation, and that tethered aircraft are exempt from these rules
  • Accountability is important – most people are not happy to be the target of camera that is being flown by an unseen operator

The solution is a tethered, GoPro-fitted quadcopter with onboard algorithms that let it fly instantly and virtually under any conditions, without relying on piloting skills, GPS working or wifi failing.

http://youtu.be/A0ccn9NeZow

Fotokite is designed to be launched and fully operational in one minute. To the user, flying the camera is as simple as holding a kite, and framing the picture is as easy as rotating your hand-held monitor. The tether provides visual accountability for bystanders and property owners.

Fotokite. Credit: Robert Ladig.

Fotokite. Credit: Robert Ladig.

The man behind the project, Sergei Lupashin, is a TED Fellow with 10+ years of autonomous systems experience and has assembled an impressive team that includes robotics heavy-weight Raffaello D’Andrea as an advisor. The project is supported by the Swiss National Centre of Competence for Research in Robotics (NCCR), which is also a supporter of the Flying Donkey Challenge.

Already there are several concepts that enable a drone to autonomously follow and film a moving object (AirDog and Hexo+). However, the Fotokite seems particularly well suited for use in media, to provide birds-eye view while allowing those around the device to immediately identify the camera operator. Though its price is still unknown, it seems like a  cool tool that will surely be added to many reporters’ inventory one day soon.

Video and image courtesy of Fotokite.

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Dronologista Aviation & Drone Enthusiast
Dronologista Aviation & Drone Enthusiast





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