A Quadcopter Drone For Curious Civilians

Most unmanned aerial vehicles are intended for government use. 3D Robotics’ new drone comes preassembled, can survive multiple crashes, and won’t cost you $7.4 million.

The 3DR Iris(full disclosure: 3D Robotics was founded by former Wired Editor-In-Chief, Chris Anderson), is a quadcopter UAV that’s targeted at the committed (or curious) hobbyist. Its autopilot — any drone’s most important component — is powered by the company’s new PX4 flight management unit, which runs a ARM Cortex-M processor. In addition to radio control, the 3DR Iris can be controlled by an Android device, and eventually, an iPhone. Having a ground control station that’s a certified computer has some benefits too. The 3DR Iris can follow a flight plan drawn on a map and can also tail your GPS-enabled ground controller with a function called “Follow Me.” 3D Robotics bills this as a way to get the “ultimate selfie,” but most passersby will call it “pet drone mode.”

Another reason hobbyists will be attracted to the 3DR Iris is for aerial photography. Unlike the Parrot.Ar, which is about half the price of the 3DR Iris, you can mount a GoPro camera to the drone. Eventually, there will be a complete stabilized camera gimbal attachment add-on available too. Of course, if you fly UAVs, you’ll eventually crash. And the Iris is well designed in the event of any unplanned or rough landings. Instead of the styrofoam chassis found on the Parrot.Ar, or the plastic-wrapped DJI Phantom, the 3DR Iris was designed to be repaired. All four detachable arms are made of durable Nylon, and replacements are cheap, ranging from $16 to $50.

The 3DR Iris can fly for an estimated 9-14 minutes on one charge, and is available right now from 3D Robotics for $730 for shipment in September. You can watch one fly below


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