For years, many drone pilots have affixed GoPro cameras to their drones. Soon, they’ll be able to fly a drone made entirely by the popular action camera company.
GoPro on Monday unveiled its Karma drone, a project that had been previously announced several months ago. Not much was known before Monday about the design, specs or cost of the drone before GoPro’s big announcement.
One of the biggest takeaways from Monday’s reveal is that the Karma starts at a price of $799 — several hundred dollars cheaper than the popular DJI Phantom 4 that came out earlier this year. It’s worth noting, however, that despite being made by GoPro, the drone itself does not come with a GoPro camera. It is compatible with the Hero 4, Hero 5 and Hero 5 Session cameras.
The Karma will be available starting Oct. 23.
Other noteworthy specs of the Karma include a battery life of about 20 minutes, with a top speed of around 35 mph. According to GoPro, the Karma can reach a maximum distance of 3,280 feet and can operate in winds up to 22 mph.
Ease of use was lauded as part of the rollout of the Karma. The controller included with the drone has a built-in screen that displays the camera’s view, along with simplistic controls for the drone itself.
“Our challenge was really to take something that is conventionally very complex and simplify it enough that anyone can go take Karma and put it up in the air with no problem whatsoever,” Sean Flanagan, GoPro’s aerial product manager, said in a video released on the company’s website.
One additional feature of the Karma is the GoPro Passenger app, which allows others to watch the flight through the drone’s camera on their phone. The controller also has a flight simulator for pilots to try before actually launching the Karma.
Additionally, the stabilizer that holds the camera can be removed from the drone and used with a hand grip that also comes included. GoPro hopes users of the Karma will also use the camera with the grip handle as an extension of the drone.
Being able to easily travel with the Karma drone appears to be a big emphasis for GoPro. The drone comes with its own case, and the Karma’s landing gear and arms easily fold up for storage and transport.
“From the get-go, we set out to design Karma to be incredibly portable,” said Nick Woodman, GoPro’s founder and CEO. “We didn’t want you to have to ask yourself, ‘Do I want to take Karma today?’ We wanted to make it so convenient that you would ask yourself, ‘Why wouldn’t I take Karma today?’”
It remains to be seen if GoPro and the Karma can compete with DJI, which already owns a large chunk of the hobby drone market. GoPro certainly hopes its drone can not only hold its own against some of the top drone manufacturers, but also boost the company’s slumping stock — which has dropped significantly over the last 12 months.
GoPro’s game plan for doing so appears to be by making a drone marketed as easy to use and cheaper than some of the alternatives.
“Capturing your life from these perspectives is so incredible that we really wanted to make it accessible to everybody,” Woodman said. “People are going to be surprised at how easy Karma is to fly.”
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By Tyler Mason