Airdog: Yet another Follow-Me copter on Kickstarter!

Given that this is the third Follow-Me announcement of the day, AirDog's claim to be the "world's first" auto-follow action sports drone may not be quite accurate ;-) But the tracking bracelet looks very interesting. They're raising $200,000 on Kickstarter.

AirDog: World's First Auto-follow Action Sports Drone

The goal of this Kickstarter is to launch production of the AirDog, It is a simple to use personal drone for every surfer, snow-skate-wake-kite-boarder, MX or BMX rider. The AirDog is a leap forward in personal drone technology, developed by a group of engineers who are passionate about action sports.

With your help, the AirDog will move to production. With it, the world will be introduced to an innovation, an experience, and a device that is truly game changing. 

Imagine this for just a minute.

You’re doing the very thing you were born to do — You’re surfing a mammoth wave, pulling off a flawless cutback. It’s breathtaking. You’re on your snowboard, whooshing over fresh powder in the backcountry. It’s exhilarating. You’re executing a perfect crankflip on the BMX course. It’s mind blowing.

Now imagine that your GoPro is soaring overhead, capturing the entire performance in pro quality video. Every move of your body, every droplet of water, every flake of snow, and every clod of dirt — everything captured in exquisite detail.

The camera matches your pace, flying down the slope at 40 mph. The camera dips and hovers to photograph your movement through the curl of the wave. The GoPro gradually rises as your bike ascends a roller.

You’ve got video proof of your exploits, accomplishments, and achievements. The camera — super stable, incredibly smooth, precisely framed, and perfectly balanced, — is recording with flawless accuracy. It’s your airborne sidekick, flying along wherever you go.

Does the dream sound too good to be true?

It’s called AirDog, and its the world’s first auto-follow action sports drone.

What do you get when you throw aviation experts, entrepreneurs, programmers, developers, and extreme sports fanatics into a box, and shake it up?

You get us. We’re kind of a quirky group.

Our team at all its gloryOur team at all its glory

We love doing something fanatical like MX, wakeboarding, snowboarding, kitesurfing, skating, surfing, or other daredevil stunts. But when we get sort of serious, we’re cooking up technology that’s just as extreme as the action sports we love.

AirDog is the product of years of development, the pinnacle of drone technology, the apex of sports videography. (And it took a heck of a lot of coffee.)

Now, we’re ready to introduce this mind-blowing technology to extreme sports fans all over the world.

This invention is a dream come true.

AirDog is a small, agile, foldable quadcopter, especially designed for video shooting action sports with the GoPro camera.

Like its canine namesake, AirDog automatically follows you wherever you go, whatever you do. It’s not bothered by pelting rain, freezing temps, massive waves, or freaking insane places. AirDog doesn’t say “no.” It just follows, flying right along.

AirDog is your sidekick, just in case you can’t rent a helicopter plus professional photographer to take a video of your black diamond run. AirDog is your personal training assistant, allowing you to review what you’re doing right, and where you need to improve. AirDog can transport you to views that you never thought possible. AirDog can persuade others to join you in your extremes.

AirDog gives proof to your bragging rights.

Just strap the AirLeash on your wrist or helmet, and the AirDog is ready to follow you.

Inside, AirDog is really complex technology. But using and controlling AirDog is really simple.

Here’s the basic idea:

  • AirDog follows a signal from the programmable tracker - AirLeash.

  • The AirLeash is a small waterproof computerized tracker with clever software and sensors inside. It sends signals to the AirDog, indicating exact movement trajectory.

  • The drone performs inflight calculations to correct its flying pattern, and points the camera at the user wearing AirLeash.

Takeoff and landing is completely autonomous, freeing you to focus on your performance. It will land at the end of your track, or return to the takeoff spot when the battery begins to run low. An alarm on the AirLeash tells you when AirDog’s battery is too low to continue.

We spent countless caffeine-fueled hours, hacking intelligent flight code algorithms. The result is functionality that allows AirDog to follow you while you’re riding down the slope or flipping around on a halfpipe. You don’t have to worry about controlling the camera.

Strap it on, cue it up, and do epic things.

AirDog has three main flight modes:

  • “Auto- Follow” mode, with many submodes for different sports

  • Manual remote control flight for first person view (FPV) or indoors. (Manual remote is not included in AirDog kit).

  • Handheld Steadicam mode. When not in the air use it as stedicam.

There are six Follow modes that you can configure and control with your AirLeash and smartphone app. Each one is a great choice and will deliver stunning results, regardless of your sport. You’ll probably want to use all six.

Tracker prototype. Production version is expected to be almost half the size of prototype in picture.Tracker prototype. Production version is expected to be almost half the size of prototype in picture.
  1. Auto-follow. Will work with almost any sports. In this mode AirDog will follow you repeating exactly your movement trajectory while maintaining its position in preset distance and altitude from you.

  2. Relative position - In this mode AirDog will maintain constant offset relative to magnetic north from the rider. For example, you can set it to keep a 10 meter distance at 4 meters high to the east from your position. Even when you change your direction, the AirDog will stay at the same preset angle from you. We suggest this mode for straight line wakeboard cable parks, surfing, and some other sports.

  3. Follow track. This is the safest way to operate AirDog. Simply go for one lap with AirLeash and it will record your track. Then adjust AirDogs trajectory to your liking in smartphone app.  AirDog will repeatedly fly over the exact set trajectory and the camera will be continually adjusted to aim at the rider.This is the most creative mode where you can become a true director of your movie. Adjust AirDog's trajectory to avoid obstacles like buildings or trees. You can even make it to shoot you from different angle on different spots/kickers in the track. It might sound complicated, but its a simple few tap process in AirDog smartphone app.

  4. Hover and Aim. The Hover and Aim setting allows AirDog to stay in one position above the ground, but constantly directing the camera at the AirLeash. This setting is perfect for tight places such as smaller skateparks, narrow forest trails, or for activities such as bungee jumping or base jumping, where clearance from equipment is important. 

  5. Circle. In this setting, AirDog makes circular rotations on a set radius and altitude, keeping the camera aimed at the AirLeash. This for slow speed or static shots to show impressive view around you.

  6. Look down.  The most simple mode but can produce very stunning reasults. Simply "walk" your AirDog above a ramp or kicker where you are about to throw some epic tricks and with push of a button it will freeze its position and aim camera straight down. Now make sure you don't go too high.

Not satisfied with all these amazing options? No worries.

We’ll always be adding new flight modes through firmware and app updates. We depend on user feedback to continually develop Airdog into something that’s jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring.

The AirDog is designed to go farther and higher than you thought possible. If you’ve ever wanted to shoot an edgy music video from off a cliff, the AirDog is your solution. If you’re shooting an indie movie, and want some clutch aerial shots for the car chase scene, the AirDog is happy to oblige.

You can read more about flight modes on AirDog's official website

If you’re already an experienced remote control (RC) pilot, you’ll love Airdog’s manual flight features. Although AirDog boasts fully autonomous flight modes, you can also use it for FPV (First Person View) or indoor video shooting with your RC transmitter. Simply connect any TX module that supports PPM mode and has more than 6 channels, and fly AirDog completely manually.

But there’s more! You can combine AirDog’s auto-follow feature with manual control. Simply attach the Airmote tracker to the object you want to shoot — car, boat, animal, whatever — and manually turn follow mode on or off whenever you want to switch to or from manual mode. This way, you can use the auto-follow tracker with enhanced RC maneuvers to make circular fly-around moves at the precise radius and speed.

With this amazing combination of auto-follow and manual control, AirDog is a total game changer in aerial video shooting. You won’t believe the creative possibilities.

So you want to make videos that look drop dead awesome, professional, and really top-notch. We get that.

We designed AirDog, while chanting the mantra “stable, stable, stable.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that, but you get the idea. We think stability is important, and we obsessed over it.

AirDog uses  2 axis gyro-stabilized gimbal with the following features to make sure that your aerial videos are as stable as a tripod on a granite slab. Here’s what we engineered:

In other words, your GoPro footage is stable as anything, even while airborne, even while flying at 40 mph, and even while tracking your progress on the slalom.

To use AirDog, simply attach your GoPro to the drone’s gimbal and you’re ready for stable action shots.

Early gimbal prototype test demonstrates camera stability. 

AirDog has its own app (iOS & Android), giving you full control of the device.

With the app, you can control the distance, height, and angle. You can create custom flight paths of your favorite tracks and map out shooting presets. 

Smartphone integration means that total flight control is just a tap away.

Extreme sports are about extreme conditions. Even your equipment needs to have extreme designs.

AirDog is all about extremes.

This drone is as tough as they come. If we had to pick what type of dog we modelled it after, we’d have to pick the bulldog. (With wings.)

The AirDog’s design has the following features:

  • Foldable arms

  • Impact-resistant body

  • Collapsible body

  • Fold-down props

  • Weather resistant

  • Lightweight

  • Collision-sensitive motor shutdown

  • Prop guard (will be released later as an accessory)

  • Easy repair

AirDog defies the limits of your expectations.

  • You can stuff it in your backpack and go.

  • You can expect it to perform in subzero temperatures

  • You can force it to follow you through wind, waves, rain, sleet, and snow. 

The AirDog is designed to withstand impact. The prop guard, an optional accessory, provides further protection to the AirDog and bystanders. Replacement parts are available, and can be easily installed using simple tools.

Here is why we developed a dedicated tracker we call AirLeash.

A year ago when we started development of the AirDog we thought it was a good idea to make AirDog follow a smartphone. We abandoned this idea very soon, here’s why:

1. Poor usability in many sportsHow would you use it when surfing? How to operate a smartphone in cold weather when in gloves? How to make it waterproof and still be able to terminate flight and quickly land it in emergency situation? 

2. Missing vital sensors for precision auto-followAverage smartphone GPS accuracy in horizontal plane is about 5-10 meters and error doubles when measuring altitude.
We realised that in order to achieve precision we need much higher level sensors and very complicated sensor fusion algorithms to calculate and predict movement trajectory and keep camera aimed at rider all the time.

3. Poor wi-fi and bluetooth rangeDifferent smartphones are performing differently. But it was clear that ranges above 30-50 meters are not really possible. This again creates a problem when you are surfing out in the ocean 350 meters from drone and want it to launch and come to you. Or you are riding downhill at 30 mph and drone just loses signal… its gone forever unless you climb back on the mountain. So we reassured ourselves that we need a reliable and long range wireless transmission and custom developed tracker - AirLeash.

For too long, the drone has been synonymous with warfare. We’ve designed a drone with a very different purpose.

We think it’s time for a  new generation of drones that inspire creativity, enjoyment of nature, healthy lifestyles, and self expression.

AirDog is on a mission to help us achieve that.

The future of the AirDog project is in your hands. You have the chance to be part of a technological breakthrough.

We’ve had a blast — a year of building, testing, developing, dreaming, creating, toiling, and getting ready.

Now, it’s go time.

Everything is ready. From the final design, to the component suppliers, to the production lines — the final phase we’re waiting on is you. 

You can be part of the first generation of AirDog users, dreamers, and pioneers. You can be the first owner of the AirDog.

All AirDog standard kits come with the following:

You have demands. AirDog meets them:

  • Durable and weather resistant construction

  • 10-20 minutes flight time depending on flight speed

  • Interchangeable 14.8 V, 4000mAh, LiPo batteries

  • Wind resistance up to 28 knots (14 m/s)

  • Top speed, 40 mph (software limited)

  • AirLeash range up to 1000 feet (300m)

  • Operational ceiling, 3000 meters above sea level

  • Weight 3.08 lbs (1.4 kg). 3.96 lbs (1.8 kg) with battery

Views: 5698

Comment by Gary Mortimer on June 16, 2014 at 12:00am

Worlds first ought to be banned here as a term, it gets used all the time and yet many of us will have seen whatever the first is before. MK had this sort of thing working sort of, years ago. Its no wonder its better now, it should be! I don't quite understand that prop arrangement. The hex would be the choice for me ;-)

Comment by Nicolas Vuignier on June 16, 2014 at 3:04am

june 16th AKA follow-me copter day

Comment by Bill Bonney on June 16, 2014 at 5:55am
Airdog do have video up on their you tube channel from around 3 months ago

I agree with Gary, first is really not good (i'm sure i watched a video a year ago with Chris walking with a laptop being followed by a quad). Better marketing would be more focused on reliability and usefulness as its not an easy feature to get right.
Comment by Sam Curcio on June 16, 2014 at 6:40am

It may be ready for the world, but not in the USA where the FAA won't allow UAV flights over people's heads.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on June 16, 2014 at 6:54am

Sam, you can fly over your own head. That's what RC flying is all about!

Comment by Sam Curcio on June 16, 2014 at 7:08am

Chris, that won't work. The FAA is looking out for our welfare. It's a kinder and gentler agency that protects us from ourselves, no matter how adventurous we would like to be.   :o)

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on June 16, 2014 at 7:10am

You're the pilot. You have to be around the vehicle to comply with the Pilot in Command rule. 

Comment by Sam Curcio on June 16, 2014 at 7:18am

Yet another one: "HEXO+ is an intelligent drone that follows and films you autonomously."

Comment by Mustafa TULU on June 16, 2014 at 9:05am

I don't think they will deliver what they show. Those videos professionally shot.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on June 16, 2014 at 10:07am

Yep.  Whole lotta bait and switch.  The Hexo+ design seems looks to me to be critically flawed design right from the start.  The Air Dog isn't much better, but at least it folds in a near way. 


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