AirDog is the world’s first auto-follow action sports drone with adventure sport flight modes, perfectly suitable for surfing, snowboarding/skiing, wakeboarding, skateboarding, mountain biking and virtually any outdoors activity you can think of. As the drone is autonomous, it will change the way you think of filming yourself in action. You won’t need a cameraman anymore, and that’s great for independent active people who don’t want to rely on anybody else for creating awesome footage. It’s also a training tool – by capturing your performance on video from an unique angle you can analyze it and improve it.
In addition, no piloting skills or any drone experience whatsoever is required to use this product, which makes it perfect for basically anybody who is interested in getting a drone.
AirDog drone is made in Latvia and it’s a product of very successful Kickstarter campaign which raised over $1.3 million. Later it won the award in the category Best robot/drone in CES 2015.
Quick facts about AirDog
- Auto-follows you everywhere you go
- Intelligent flight modes
- No piloting skills required
- Extremely easy to use
- Waterproof remote control (IP67 certified )
- High price
- No collision detection system
- Sometimes the video is shaky
The exterior of the drone is what immediately captures your attention. This quadcopter’s bright yellow base and the 4 foldable purple propellers instantly set the tone and give you a firm indication of what AirDog is all about – boldness, confidence and uniqueness. You can bring the drone anywhere with you, as it’s compact – you can easily fit it in a backpack, due to its foldable design. The drone’s dimensions are 24.7 x 24.7 x 5.4 inches and the weight is just above 4pounds (1.8kg). When you put the gimbal, the battery and the GoPro camera it weighs just 4.3pounds (1.98kg).
In addition, AirDog has a gimbal for a GoPro camera in protective housing. Unfortunately, a GoPro camera is not included in the package.
Last but not least, there’s an external interchangeable & rechargeable battery (you can buy an extra battery here) The size of the battery is 5600 mAh, the output is 14.8 V and it’s a LiPo battery.
AirDog uses sophisticated sensors to calculate various metrics such as distance, angle, speed, altitude and more. Depending on the flight mode selected, it changes its internal settings and flies in a different way, creating better overall flying experience.
However, it’s worth noting that currently the drone does not have onboard collision detection and it’s unable to detect if it’s going to crash into an object or not. This is the reason why it’s stated that the drone should only be used in wide open areas, where it cannot face any aerial obstacles (such as buildings, trees, constructions etc.). There has been information that AirDog team is currently working on a community-driven obstacle avoidance solution, which will come as a free firmware upgrade.
No smartphone is required in order to fly AirDog, however you’ll need one for the initial activation of the drone. You’d also want to have a computer nearby, so you can download AirLoader – a desktop app, which you will need for downloading the latest new firmware and for sending log files back to AirDog’s official servers. Here’s a detailed start guide for your convenience:
After the initial setup process you can finally start using the drone! It’s important to do a sensor check before you fly the drone, as this re-calibrates all the settings and gets the drone ready for the flight. Official information states that this sensor check should be done every 8h (AirDog will notify you), for keeping the device as accurate as possible.
Now we get to the fun part – controls. Wel..controlling the drone is the easiest way possible – you don’t!
The drone is controlled from a special device, called the AirLeash. This is basically a remote control/tracking device full of sensors, which is attached to your wrist or upper arm, and which sends signals to the drone itself, giving it instructions about altitude, distance, angle, take-off and landing and more. It also shows AirDog who should it point the camera at, and by this is allows the drone to make calculations based on your movement and “predict” where will you go next, so it can better position itself.
The sensors which are present in the tracking device are gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, magnetometer and GPS. AirLeash is also waterproof (IP67 certified), so you don’t have to worry about getting it wet while surfing- it is submersible up to 3 feet (1m) for 30 minutes. The device has a monochrome LCD display, which shows the status of the drone, a few buttons to navigate through the menus and button for calling the drone back home.
See how the drone works here:
More specifically, the steps you need to take in order to fly AirDog are the following:
- Go to a wide-open area
- Unfold the arms of the drone
- Attach the propellers
- Unfold the landing gears
- Insert the battery
- Put on AirLeash and turn it on
- Perform a sensor check
- Select flight mode
- Press play
Flying the drone
This auto-follow drone is capable of filming between 12-18 minutes, depending on the weather conditions and the selected flight mode. It’s also able to withhold winds at speeds up to 28 knots (14m/s). What is noticeable is that sometimes the drone is shaking (due to wind) and the final video could be just a bit wobbly at some point, so have that in mind. AirDog’s top speed is 42mph (68 km/h), which makes it perfect for speedy sports activities such as jet skiing, skiing, surfing etc. The range of the drone is 820 feet (250 meters) and its operational celing is 11500 feet above sea level (3500 meters). It also operates at temperatures from 23ºF (-5ºC) to 104ºF (40ºC).
Depending on the flight mode, the drone will stay ahead of you when you use it in a sport that involves lines between you and an object, and will position itself differently depending on what you use it for. For example if you use it in the water for surfing and you press the “home” button it will return back to land instead of trying to land in the water. It will also notify you when the battery is getting low and will go back to land safely.
What’s in the box
When you open up AirDog’s package you’ll see:
- The AirDog drone
- AirLeash remote
- AirLeash strap
- Battery charger
- 4 propellers
- USB cable
- Power cable
Currently AirDog is priced at $1599, which is quite a lot for a drone but you should have in mind that you are buying the world’s first auto-follow drone which doesn’t require any piloting/drone skills and this technology is still extremely new. You can purchase the drone directly from AirDog’s website or from Amazon.
It seems that AirDog is very involved with the community and it definitely listens to its feedback, as there’s a lot of information for additional flight modes with their unique settings coming up in the future. In addition, there should be lots of firmware updates, providing improved drone control and quite possibly some extra features. Without a doubt the future is bright for AirDog!
As of right now, there are no exact alternatives to AirDog. The ability to be followed by your drone without having to pilot is quite new and there aren’t any real competitors yet. However, there are a couple of drones which get very close to AirDog’s idea, and I’ll list them below:
- Hexo+ – Similar capabilities, but controlled by smartphone instead of AirLeash. You can also control it with RC remote. A bit more limited usage. Price – $999.
- Typhoon H 4k– A hexacopter with collision avoiding system. Price – $1299 – available on Amazon
Overall, the AirDog auto-follow drone is a fantastic piece of equipment, suitable for every action sport lover. It’s high price is more or less justifiable when you consider all the advantages this new technology gives you. However, the sometimes shaky video footage and the lack of collision avoiding system can put off some of the drone’s potential customers. This of course can be solved by firmware upgrades in the very near future, so watch this space for more relevant information.
There’s one thing for sure – AirDog is going to revolutionize the way we perceive drones, because they’re getting smarter and more capable than ever.