3D Robotics unveils new drone that autonomously follows you around

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3D Robotics is not about to let DJI hog all the press with its wild Inspire 1 Drone, so it just revealed its own semi-pro model: the X8+. The 8-prop UAV is designed to carry GoPro or lightweight mirrorless cameras, while offering a fully automated flight control system starting at $1,350. That price may tempt pro or semi-pro users away from DJI’s, retractable gear model, which runs $2,900 with a built-in gimbal and 4K camera. But unlike DJI’s turnkey drone, 3DR is positioning the X8+ as a customizable ship aimed not only at cinematographers, but surveyors or miners too.

The drone wars are heating up, and I don’t mean robots battling it out in the sky. Today, 3D Robotics revealed the X8+, a drone with swappable parts that is equally comfortable taking photographs, carrying a small package and mapping terrain. It doesn’t have the total photography package the new DJI Inspire 1 is shaping up to offer, but its modularity will make it appealing to anyone who needs that extra flexibility and control. At $1,350, the X8+ is less than half the price of an Inspire 1, though it doesn’t come with a camera. Instead, you can attach whatever camera you would like. That includes GoPros but also light professional cameras (including plenty of choices that allow for higher quality images than the 12 megapixels the Inspire 1 can manage). The X8+’s biggest strength over the Inspire 1 is its software. Like any 3D Robotics drone, it can follow you around, fly to an exact location you pinpoint on a mobile device and keep its camera trained on a specific landmark. And it’s pretty great at creating aerial maps.

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