3D Robotics


Just announced at NAB:

The latest stream of cutting-edge software from 3DR includes augmented reality, interactive scene awareness and new Smart Shots, and it will dramatically enhance the aerial filming experience and all-around safety of drone flight.

Apr. 18, Las Vegas — Today 3DR, America’s largest drone maker, announced their Solo smart drone will support a suite of advanced software that will make Solo more powerful, more safe and overall a more versatile drone. From the drone’s release at NAB 2015, 3DR has promised this kind of evolution. The new software includes augmented reality, customizable geofencing, automatic flight path rewinding and two new Smart Shots, Pano and Zipline. It will be compatible with any and every Solo, dramatically multiplying the possibilities for creative storytelling, and making the experience of flight safer and more sophisticated than ever.


In 2016, 3DR has invested in a software approach to scene awareness. The company evaluated the current state of sense-and-avoid hardware, and, while available and viable to mount on drones like Solo today, it’s still imperfect. As opposed to first-generation on-board hardware that can make pilots overconfident to the point they might overlook their environment, this comprehensive approach does the opposite, raising the user’s awareness of their environment and of what they’re asking the drone to do in that environment. It makes everyone a safer, more informed and more effective pilot.


Augmented Reality (see image above)

Breakthrough Augmented Reality features enhance the overall flying and Smart Shot experience. The Solo app will overlay visuals in real time on your mobile screen; for example, animating your home point, or your Orbit point of focus. This improves the visualization and execution of creative shots, along with providing another dimension of real-time scene awareness for safer, more informed and more productive flights.

Custom Geofencing

New in-app geofencing gives users the ability to define a virtual fence around Solo at any time in flight just by drawing on their screen with their fingertip. Users can define this virtual “safety net” for Solo to fly within by setting four points on their satellite view; this will create an area around Solo that the drone can’t leave. Users can do this before taking off or while Solo is in the air, allowing them to easily block off nearby obstacles or entire areas at any time.




With the press of a button, Solo will retrace its exact path for the last 60 feet of your flight (this distance will be user-definable in the app) to ensure it avoids obstacles on its way back home.




Solo now has a new “Pano” Smart Shot. (Smart Shots are 3DR’s breakthrough computer-assisted cinema technology that enables users to capture the kinds of complex shots that used to require years of practice.) Pano allows users to easily design and capture an aerial panorama. Take time to set up the perfect shot, then Solo automatically pans and snaps the right photos at the right time.




The Zipline Smart Shot allows users to set an infinite ray in any direction the camera is facing, just by pushing a button. They can then fly up and down that line, controlling speed and direction as well as the camera. Quickly fly in any direction to catch fast-moving subjects; or fly at an angle, even straight up, for dynamic shots. Zipline also has a “spot lock” feature for fixing the camera on a point of interest independent from the zipline. Look at something, press spot lock and Solo keeps the camera fixed on the subject while the copter approaches and passes on the zipline, for a dramatic flyby.


Follow Updates

The inventors of the follow drone continue to lead the way in this technology. Follow now offers a “leash” mode, where Solo will always follow from directly behind the subject. This can also be useful for obstacle avoidance; if the subject travels along a path with obstacles on either side (at a reasonable distance), Solo will take the same route. In addition to leash mode, Solo will also account for altitude changes (available on iPhone 6 and above) when following a subject climbing or descending slopes. And those who want to shoot over water will be happy to see the new “boat mode,” which allows Solo to take off from a moving platform.


“We didn’t design Solo as a product, but as a platform — which is industry jargon for ‘ongoing experience,’” said Colin Guinn, CRO of 3DR. “This means that instead of pouring our innovation into a whole new drone to sell you, we keep developing on Solo, so the technology in the drone you have today just gets better as time goes on. Solo has delivered on that promise, a drone that’s evolved ahead of the technology curve and anticipated with what serious pilots and creatives really want in their drone. We’ve always been committed to thoughtfully applying the smartest technology to help you harness your own creativity, so you can easily and quickly create and capture the incredible shots you want. This release extends the experience you can take to the air, and also makes everyone a more engaged and safer pilot.”

To buy Solo, click here.

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  • 3D Robotics

    @HyperGuy that's correct most of it was implemented using DroneKit

  • Wow, just wow!  Any videos of the AR stuff? Been salivating over this one since the Hololens was released

  • Is this going to raise east bay rent again?

  • I assume that a lot of this can be done in DroneKit. Has anyone actually done anything like this in the forums? Randy?

  • Developer

    Great to see these new features go into Solo.

    I'm also pro open source (as I'm sure ChrisA is) but assuming the whole world won't go open source, I like how 3DR has managed to build a system that successfully mixes open and closed.  It's a good example for other manufacturers (I hope) many of whom get all scared by ArduPilot's GPLv3 license which forces them to contribute back any improvements they make to the core code.  It shows you can successfully use the stable core flight code and stick your proprietary stuff one level higher.

    .. and if someone wants to re-implement some of the features in core ardupilot we're always happy to accept PRs :-)!

  • Developer

    Indeed, very cool stuff!

  • Very cool stuff.  Shame it's proprietary and unlikely to make it's way to apm, but understandable.  Super awesome!

  • It seems that the augmented reality feature is exactly what's covered in Apple patent US8400548.


    "A device can receive images and/or live video of a real

    World, physical environment on a touch sensitive surface.

    One or more objects can be identified in the live video. One or

    more information layers can be generated related to the

    objects. The information layer and live video can be

    combined in a display of the device. Data can be received

    from one or more onboard sensors indicating that the device

    is in motion. The sensor data can be used to synchronize the

    live video and the information layer as the perspective of

    video camera view changes due to the motion. The live video

    and information layer can be shared with other devices over a

    communication link."

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