Drones are becoming ubiquitous in the world of action sports filming, and now a new company called Staaker is looking to change the way everyone looks at drone footage by introducing the world’s first artificially intelligent, auto-follow drone.
“The Staaker is the result of three years of development with 11 engineers and over 50 prototypes,” Michael Luff, the VP of Marketing for Staaker, told GrindTV. “Three years of intense development and almost daily testing out in the field getting feedback, all with the end result of helping you make an awesome movie.”
As noted, the Staaker is the end result of an intense multi-year design effort. While it’s not the first drone to have have auto-follow capabilities (the ability to follow and film you as you ski/surf/mountain bike without being piloted) it is the first to be artificially intelligent.
And that is what makes it so groundbreaking, according to Luff.
“What sets the Staaker apart is that, because of its AI, it will learn your movements,” said Luff.
“We developed a series of elaborate algorithms to help the Staaker calculate where you will be in the future,” Luff continued. “Once it figures that out, the Staaker works out the best possible angle to film and will fly around you to get the best shot.”
In essence, Luff says, the Staaker is less a drone and more a robotic cameraman.
“The drone has its own brain, and it works like a cameraman on a helicopter,” said Luff. “Whereas other drones will simply follow you in one position, we worked with top directors and asked how they would get the best shots, and programmed the Staaker to get all the different angles they would aim for.”
Using the Staaker is simple. All you have to do is wear the waterproof tracking device as you practice whatever sport you enjoy, and the Staaker can then choose from five different follow modes to get any possible angle you could dream of.
In order to keep up with the most intense action sports enthusiasts, the Staaker was tested by pro surfer Jaime O’Brien, pro mountain biker Cam Zink and pro snowboarder Stale Sandbech.
From those tests, Staaker determined that the drone would have a top speed of 50 miles per hour and a battery life of 30 minutes.
And if you are worried about the drone potentially running into an object (like trees in the backcountry) the Staaker features an “up” button on its tracker to make the drone rapidly climb above any potential hazards.
“And, our next version which will be out by next Christmas will have automatic collision avoidance,” said Luff. “No drones commercially available at the moment have collision avoidance available at full speed.”
Compatible with GoPro cameras, the drone is currently available for the special pre-order pricing of $1195 for a limited time (it will retail at $1795) and Luff says all orders will ship out before Christmas.
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