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Best Buy will begin selling a Smart Drone by 3D Robotics

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Best Buy will begin selling a Smart Drone by 3D Robotics

By Kent Larson, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - May 2, 2015 at 10:25 a.m.


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BERKELEY, Calif. — A smart drone seems a contradiction in terms. A drone is a mindless worker that works until death, so how can it be smart?

3D Robotics (3DR) has tried to meld the two functions with a new product soon to hit the shelves of Best Buy and other retailers: SOLO (The World’s First Smart Drone).

Solo is made with two LINUX computers: one in the drone and the other in the controller. It will also come with an app for Android or Apple smartphones. It will be able to do orbits of a central target, follow programmed paths and do a great zoom out. It might be the ultimate accessory for GoPro cameras.

"What Solo introduces are two new technologies for deep integration with GoPros," 3D Robotics CEO and co-founder Chris Anderson told CNET. "The first thing is because it has an onboard Linux computer, it's capable of running apps for computer vision for object tracking and artificial intelligence and other things. And because it also has a long-distance broadband connection, it's able to transmit not just the HD video, but flight data and telemetry."

The built-in Wi-Fi will be able to reach up to half a mile (800 meters), significantly increasing the range that GoPro cameras had before. Anderson has said the combined power makes it possible to take the scripted camera movements, the stock in trade of Hollywood, and turn them into software. Solo will have an HDMI slot for the camera and can broadcast a live HD video, something no other drone has offered.

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This drone won’t be for the average consumer starting at $999.00, but will be a big step in getting programmable drones into the hands of the public sector.

The American Civil Liberties Union, among other organizations, has expressed some reservations about domestic drones.

“Drones have many beneficial uses, including in search-and-rescue missions, scientific research, mapping, and more. But deployed without proper regulation, drones equipped with facial recognition software, infrared technology, and speakers capable of monitoring personal conversations would cause unprecedented invasions of our privacy rights,” a statement from the ACLU reads.

Admittedly, Solo isn’t capable of these things but it could open the door to new and more complicated drones. "The World's First Smart Drone" for the public might be the beginning of some interesting times and troubling questions concerning privacy rights in the future.


Kent Larson is from Phoenix, Arizona. He is 52 and has been married for 30 years. They have two sets of twins. He’s been teaching for 26 years and still enjoys it. His interests include writing, reading, music, and movies.

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