Xavier De Le Rue Launches HEXO+ on Kickstarter: The World's First Autonomous Aerial Drone

In just 5 hours after launch, Xavier de le Rue and a small group called ‘Squadrone System’ have successfully funded their autonomous aerial drone project HEXO+, hitting 303% of their original Kickstarter target.

If the recent spur of kickstarter projects and emails landing in our inbox are anything to go by, it’s looking like personal drone technology – an aerial drone designed to automatically track and film you ride – will be a very real possibility in the near future.

Xavier de le Rue is one of the most insane snowboarders on the planet, and is also very hands-on when it comes to movie-making. He recently joined forces with Squadrone System to develop the HEXO+ to help create an easy, affordable way to capture aerial footage. After launching on Kickstarter only 5 hours ago, the project has already smashed its initial target.

We initially began thinking about HEXO+ because we needed a solution that would make aerial filming possible in the most remote places: on mountains, in the snow, and in all sorts of unpredictable situations that were quite a pain to deal with when trying to sync a drone pilot, a cameraman and a rider.

The autonomous system seems ridiculously straightforward, requiring only the HEXO+ drone, a GoPro and an app on your smartphone.

hexo1

First up, you use your phone to frame the shot. A 3D model of your camera’s point of view lets you pinch to set the distance between your subject and your drone, slide laterally for panning and vertically for height.

Once you apply the settings, the drone takes off and assumes it’s position by you, hovering until you begin moving. Once you start doing your thing, the drone follows you, maintaining its pre-defined position and capturing all the action on a stabilised Go-Pro mounted gimbal.

hexo 2

After seeing this project in it’s early stages presented as Next Level Aerial Filming, it’s cool to see HEXO+ with more specifics around it and it certainly looks like the most complete and promising autonomous aerial drone that we’ve seen to date. Furthermore, it’s being backed by a few different pro snowboarders like Xavier, John Jackson and Ralph Backstrom.

With the project now successfully funded, look out for HEXO+ coming to the market in May 2015.

Check out the official HEXO+ Kickstarter page for a bunch more technical info and FAQs. The more money these guys can raise to reach their Stretch targets, the more features these guys will be able to develop so get involved if you’re stoked on what you see.

 Key Features of HEXO+:

  • Easy to use: set the framing on your smartphone and lock your target, the drone does the rest; from auto take-off to auto landing.
  • Smart and autonomous: no remote control necessary; HEXO+ automatically follows your movements to maintain the framing you defined.
  • Designed for action: lightweight, foldable frame and legs, removable propellers and gimbal to fit in a backpack.
  • Extra fast flight: up to 70 km/h – 45 mph top speed to track even the fastest subject. Wind tunnel tested for improved aerodynamics.
  • Extra stable: hexacopter design and 2D brushless gimbal to ensure vibration-free, smooth filming.
  • Safe: Fail-safe software features and six propellers mean a safe landing in case of a problem.
  • GoPro compatible mount: built for the best action camera out there.
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