This Automated Drone Will Follow You

Camera drones are becoming more and more common these days—particularly for certain members of our government. And while most drones require a person holding double joysticks for control, there's a new drone coming soon that can fly without supervision. Meet the AirDog, the first automated drone that follows you like a loyal labrador (get it?), capturing aerial footage while you shred.  

The AirDog is a "simple out-of-the-box drone for every surfer, kite-wake-snow-skate boarder or motocross rider out there," says creator Edgar Rozentāls, who stands at the intersection of extreme sports fanatic, IT specialist, and toy helicopter hobbyist. AirDog is simple to use because it flies itself, but getting it to follow you was anything but. The early working prototypes used a smartphone-drone pairing using WiFi and GPS, but it was kind of a mess. "Simple navigation by GPS is far from the precision needed for close and precise following," says Rozentāls. "Smartphones are missing some very crucial sensors...and you wouldn't take your smartphone on a surfboard."

With this problem in mind, they created a device to guide their drone, which they dubbed the "leash."

Durable and featuring a stronger signal to relay the user's location, the leash employs simple controls—simple, because the drone really does fly itself, taking care of everything from takeoff to landing. Spec-wise, the AirDog is impressive, flying up to 40 miles per hour (that's the software's limit) and able to handle winds up to 28 knots; the engineer team recognizes that extreme sports often are performed in extreme conditions.

The AirDog's equipped to handle 10 to 20 minutes of flight time, depending on conditions and the flight, and has an operational ceiling of 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). With the battery life so short, Rozent?ls and his team smartly didn't opt for a built-in battery, allowing you to keep filming as long as you have spares. Another example of their aeronautic prowess: the team made sure to steady the AirDog's camera paw with a gimbal mount, ensuring smooth footage. This is the type of thing that happens when fans with know-how make products.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supercompressor. He expects, oh, any day now, for drones to be following him each time he steps outside of the house. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.