YOU’LL NEVER BE ALONE WITH THIS DRONE.
OVER THE PAST 18 months or so, we’ve seen a number of ‘autonomous’ drones being launched via Kickstarter. These drones will follow your every move, hands-free, whether you’re thrashing down a mountain on a bike or shredding deep powder on an Alpine run.
A key difference with the Hexo+ is its six arm-mounted propellers, which make it a hexacopter rather than the more common quadcopter design. Despite its ample size, the Hexo+ is light enough to be transported to filming locations off the beaten track — even with the GoPro-compatible gimbal attached (you’ll need to buy the camera separately) and a battery installed.
Assembly is a cinch. Slide the two plastic landing gears into place, screw the colourcoded propellers onto the motors, attach the gimbal to the rails on the drone’s belly and plug in the gimbal’s power cable. The battery slots neatly inside the rear of the drone, and charging takes just over an hour via an aftermarket eCube charger. Additional batteries cost $229 each; that’s cheaper than other brands, but still steep considering the average 15 minutes of flight time per battery.
The Hexo+ uses a phone’s GPS position via the free app, along with four other sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer and magnetometer) to pinpoint where the subject is and how it’s moving to ensure optimum tracking and framing. It takes just 21 seconds from switching the drone on to it syncing with GPS, and connecting your phone to the drone via Bluetooth is simple, and connection is consistently strong.
The fun begins when you’re comfortable with the drone and ready to shoot. Camera movements are selected by a single tap within the app; the drone flies into position and awaits your command to Start Shooting. Highlights include Hover High, where the drone sits directly above you, taking in a huge amount of the landscape and moving with the smartphone-wielding subject on the ground. The panoramic 360, Fly In/Out and Slide Sideways modes all perfectly capture the moment when you conquer your next mountain peak. Reaction to sudden bursts of speed or movement is instant, and the gimbal’s three-axis stabilisation keeps the camera fixed firmly on the subject.
It’s still early days for the Hexo+, but this is an impressive foundation for the fledgling brand to build upon.