Despite drones being all over the news in 2014, the technology is still very much at the prototype stage with high price tags and confusing regulations limiting widespread appeal.
Another major issue is ensuring a clear picture while airborne, but one French firm may have solved this problem with a self-correcting stabilising camera.
SenseFly, a subsidiary of Parrot, has developed the eXom drone, which is capable of producing much higher resolution images than those captured by your standard off-the-shelf drone. A gyroscope fitted to the eXom’s sensor head ensures that, no matter how far the device is tilted, the camera always remains level. The company has also confirmed that the camera will be able to record high-resolution stills, HD video and thermal imaging.
The device can be flown manually or can be set to autonomous mode, whereby GPS signalling and a pre-programmed flightplan keep it on the right path. It also utilises five ultrasonic sensors to ensure it doesn’t crash into anything when on auto-pilot.
The eXom is also specifically designed to be of practical use, providing extremely detailed mapping that could prove useful for civil engineers in particular. SenseFly claims that the drone can even show millimetre-wide faults in bridges and other structures, helping to facilitate much-needed repair works.
Late last year, eXom flew in public for the first time and was able to hold and correct its position in the air automatically, without requiring remote control or GPS.
The device is also capable of 3D mapping and could prove useful for filmmakers, scientists or professional photographers.
Other specifications such as battery life, camera resolution and the drone’s weight have not yet been revealed. The price tag, which could be inflated due to the self-stabilising camera, is also a mystery along with a release date.