3D Robotics launches advanced done platform ‘Solo’

by Ben Fisher

Posted on April 13, 2015

3D Robotics today launched ‘solo’ their most advanced smart drone package yet. Aimed directly at the consumer market it is packed full of features and can be easily upgraded for future proofing. 3D Robotics has made another significant step forward with this platform and the price starting from $999 makes it an affordable one too.

The platform uses 3D Robotics latest technology and is equipped with the Pixhawk 2 and comes with it’s own custom made controller. Developed in conjunction with GoPro to lift their camera range puts it straight up against DJI and the Phantom 3.

“Solo is a breakthrough in intelligent flight. It’s not just smarter so that it can do more; it’s smarter so that you have to do less. We’ve turned the Hollywood toolkit into software, and allowed everyone to experience epic video, both behind and in front of the camera.” — Chris Anderson, CEO 3D Robotics

We’ve picked out some of the key differentiators below:

Solo is packed with two linux computers

With a 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9-powered Linux computer running on both the copter and the controller, Solo’s intelligence unleashes nearly limitless possibility and future expandability. Because we use the onboard computer’s processing power to do the heavy lifting, the autopilot becomes the “brainstem,” exclusively focused on executing the rudiments of stable and reliable flight, while the computer serves as Solo’s “frontal cortex” and handles the higher-level processing; this task distribution dramatically reduces the likelihood of autopilot system failure during flight. Solo’s smart technology not only allows us to introduce many industry-first capabilities today, but also gives us the ability to unlock future technologies—everything from a next-gen Follow mode to computer vision and true artificial intelligence.

Computer-assisted cinematography

Solo’s intelligence unlocks powerful and one-of-a-kind computer-assisted Smart Shots (patent pending). Just set up the exact shot you want in real time, then tap “play” on the app and Solo will execute it with a level of precision and a soft touch that even seasoned cinema pilots can’t match. And with a list of Smart Shots to choose from, the perfect shot is always just a few taps away. Cable cam and Orbit allow you to create a known and safe flight path along a virtual track in space, freeing you to shift your focus to getting the shot you want; or simply hit “play” and let Solo fly itself while simultaneously working the camera for you, as smooth and even as an expert cameraman. Follow mode lets you go completely hands-free, while Solo keeps up with your every move. Solo also features a one-touch aerial Selfie for a dramatic and customizable establishing Smart Shot of you and your surroundings. It’s all in service of Solo’s guiding principle: Get the shot. Every time.

Future expandability

Solo was built from the ground up to be future-proof. To accommodate future technologies and expansion options, we’ve included a gimbal bay, an accessory bay and easy-to-swap motor pods with integrated speed controllers. The gimbal bay enables other companies to make specific plug-and-play gimbals or imaging devices, providing these devices with the HD feed to Solo’s mobile app, full camera control and even access to Solo’s computing power. The accessory bay has similar functionality but is designed for accessories other than gimbal and imaging devices, such as an optical flow indoor flight stabilizer, ballistic parachute system, LED lighting system and many more. Finally, the swappable motor pods allow you to easily switch out motors in the field if necessary, and they also leave open the possibility for integrating upgraded propulsion systems for Solo in the future.

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