Aerial Drone Inventor Demos "GPS Position Hold" Hover Feature With Flying Canon 5D Mark II (VIDEO)

Aug 16, 2010
By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

Aerial drone case

In this month's issue of PDN, we wrote about the phenomenon of shooting aerial photos and video from so-called RC (radio-controlled) helicopters vs. shooting from real helicopters. In the story, Anthony Jacobs, who heads a company called perspectiveAerials which creates "aerial drones," told us about an upcoming innovation of his known as "GPS and altitude hold."

In short, it sounded incredible.

"Imagine the craft with a 5D Mark II mounted underneath, autonomously holding its position at altitude, allowing the operator to actually compose shots and the camera's tilt/pan position without actually 'flying' the craft, all while looking down at a wireless video feed showing what's seen through the 5Ds lens in real-time," Jacobs told us. "This will definitely blow a lot of folks' minds."

Jacobs recently completed testing of GPS and altitude hold on an aerial drone and it is mind-blowing.

Check out the below footage of the test which sent a Canon 5D Mark II aloft where it held a position for several minutes without needing remote control. The aerial drone then automatically returned to its launch site. (We hope this robo-copter never becomes "self-aware.")

Here's what Jacobs had to say about the test.

"The (video) shows the GPS position hold capability of my compact hand-launched DSLR remotely operated drone. Note, this is not just another RC helicopter story showing an RC craft with a DSLR camera attached…not by a long shot," he wrote in an email to PDN Gear Guide.
"For starters most guys are flying very large single rotor RC helicopters with a 5-6 foot rotor span and weighing over 25LBS…very dangerous to operate. My tool is unique because of its compact size and zero footprint operation, most other RC helis carrying DSLRs need a launch area of at least 8-10 feet in order to safely clear the spinning rotors.
2nd, and most important my platform is able to autonomously fly and hold its position via GPS, allowing the operator (photojournalist) to focus on getting the shot at a safe distance. Perfect tool for natural disaster coverage!

The rig compacts easily when traveling, the arms are removable and it all fits in a pelican case (shown above)."

The second video below shows HD footage Jacobs captured with his 4-propped drone.

(Editor's note: FAA regulations in 2006 made it illegal to fly any RC aircraft for commercial purposes. Those regulations have since been changed, allowing an RC pilot to get certified by the FAA but certification is reportedly a long and tricky process.)

Canon 5D Mark II Aerial Drone - GPS Position Hold from perspectiveAerials on Vimeo.

Filmmakers' dream tool from perspectiveAerials on Vimeo.

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