Aerial 360 Video with Drones and Ricoh THETA

I’ve been interested in the prospect of real-time, 360 FPV drone flying since I first saw someone flying a drone with a headset on San Bruno Mountain. That was years ago and, as far as I know, still nobody offers the experience I’m looking for. Queen B Robotics, out of Berkeley, lets you switch between several spherical cameras as you fly, but the video isn’t stitched together in real time. Instead, it’s stitched together after you land. Impressive tech, but still not quite what I was looking for.

When I want to capture video in 360, I use Ricoh’s THETA 360 camera. It’s a dual fisheye camera, meaning it has two spherical lenses that stitch together to make a fully 360 image or video. It’s really easy to use and it’s possible to stitch the images together in real time, so if you want to livestream the video, it looks seamless. The issue with the THETA is that it can’t perform livestreaming over WiFi. It is possible to stream it over USB or HDMI, but you’d need a pretty long and unintrusive cable to pull that off.

So the solution is to attach the THETA to a small computer that has WiFi capabilities, then secure both of them to a drone. That way you can send the video to computer and make the computer use its own WiFi module to stream the video. One of my colleagues, Craig, put together a tutorial for the various ways to capture and stream 360 video from a drone with Ricoh’s THETA camera. He also covers various mounting techniques for how to keep the THETA secured to drones of various sizes and shapes.

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You can read about it here: http://lists.theta360.guide/t/using-theta- 360-video- from-a-drone/133?u=tyler.edell

By Tyler Edell