We still don't know what drones are for, exactly.
That's what Chris Anderson, Wired editor-in-chief turned CEO of 3D Robotics, believes. But he has an idea. "The real distinction for drones, and what we do best," he told BuzzFeed News, "is autonomy." Anderson and his team at 3D Robotics are trying to create intelligent drones and bring them to consumers.
Today, they bring us Solo. Available in Best Buys across the country for $999 starting May 29, the Solo is arguably the most tricked-out personal drone ever, loaded with two Linux computers, a 25-minute maximum flight time, GoPro integration, and the capability to wirelessly stream video to nearly any device. In other words, Solo allows you to see what your drone sees, in real time, and then show your friends.
"We are in a golden age of personal storytelling," Anderson said. "This is for people that love capturing great video, and it lets the drone get the shot for you."
Solo comes with nearly unlimited use cases, but imagine you're playing soccer, and want to get a video of yourself in the game. You can set a route for the Solo — say, a single line along the field, like the cables sports networks attach cameras to — and start playing. The Solo will follow you along that axis, deciding for itself what the best angle to capture you is from via its computer-assisted "Smart Shots" feature. It's an entirely new perspective for home video, and a completely autonomous process new to consumer-available drones.
"This is totally narcissistic and totally nerdy," said Anderson. But he thinks that this is just the beginning. What Anderson reckons is truly interesting is seeing what comes next.
"We've just scraped the surface on what a drone can be," he said. "We're going to collectively explore autonomous flight." Anderson sees Solo, with its internal computers and powerful, flexible software, as a platform that people are going to hack and adapt to their own uses as time goes on. Right now, it's the most autonomous storytelling device on the market because, right now, that's what consumers use drones for most. But seeing how people use Solo is, Anderson believes, how we find out where drones go next.