AirDog Auto-Follow Drone for GoPro

Posted: July 18, 2014
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Looks like tech that autonomously follows its owner around could be the next trend in Stuff You Can't Believe Is Real. Well, maybe not entirely autonomously. Like the HEXO+ and Double the roaming robotic iPad stand, the drone you see here is more like a dog on a leash. An AirDog on an AirLeash, to be precise.

The AirDog is an auto-follow drone for use with GoPro cameras. Claiming to be the first of its kind, the quadcopter links to a remote control AirLeash users wear on their wrist or helmet and then follows along via long-range Bluetooth from up to 1,000' away. Designed specifically for the sporty, the outdoorsy, and the artsy, AirDog can capture some sick and previously impossible (for the non-professional) angles and shots. See your attack on the half pipe from the top down. Check out what awaits over that ascent before you climb it. Film a coupla fighter jets communicating. Keeping up foreign relations. You know, giving one another the bird.

The AirDog apparatus itself is an agile, foldable quadcopter with a GoPro camera mount and built-in gimbal to stabilize its footage and keep its subject in frame. It can withstand rain, extreme heat and cold, waves, "or freaking insane places" without faltering or falling behind. Further, AirDog syncs with its AirLeash flawlessly enough that even takeoff and landing are autonomous. The drone will follow you either to the end of your track, or return to its launch location when its battery begins running low (an alarm will sound if this happens).

The AirLeash component, designed to be a more precise tracker than a smartphone, is waterproof and computerized to send signals to the AirDog indicating its wearer's movement trajectory. Note: Since the AirDog drone system is currently running as a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, the AirLeash pictured is still in developmental stages. Creators Helico Aerospace Industries anticipate the final version will be half this size, plus offer multiple attachment options.

AirDog has 6 different "Auto-Follow" or "Follow Me" modes, all explained in detail here. They include settings for precise mimicry of the user's movement trajectory, a constant offset from the rider relative to magnetic north, and a "Hover and Aim" option wherein the AirDog hovers in one place in the air, but directs its GoPro camera towards the AirLeash at all times.

AirDog runs as a (well overfunded) Kickstarter campaign through July 25, 2014.

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