TechLife Australia - - WELCOME - [ CHRISTO­PHER BARNES ]

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.

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