If piloting a drone via a remote control looks a bit too daunting, the new Fotokite Phi may be more approachable. The Phi is a quadcopter that stays fixed to a tether, like a kite.
The Phi has a mount for GoPro and is compatible with the Hero 3, 3+, 4 and Hero 5 Session.
The Fotokite Phi is launched with a simple twist and flies itself to the end of the 100-foot tether where it is then controlled by gestures.
If the tether is cut, the Phi will automatically begin a controlled descent and power off upon landing. The Fotokite Phi will also give low battery alarms if you run low on power. If the battery does deplete fully during flight, the drone will automatically land softly and turn off. You’ll enjoy about 13 minutes of flight time on the battery–about half of conventional drones like the DJI Mavic Pro. The battery recharges through USB.
According to Fotokite, the drone will be quieter than your typical quadcopter because its propellers are slower. You’ll be able to tug the drone away from obstacles like trees or walls.
While the Phi is fairly unconventional, it does have a few features common to more traditional drones, including a follow-me mode, which lets you use take the drone for a walk or on an outdoor adventure. The 14 ounce Phi folds up into the size of a two-liter soda bottle.
The Fotokite leash not only steers the drone but can control basic GoPro settings such as video start/stop and photo capture. A GoPro will draw power from the Phi and will automatically power on when the drone starts to fly.
The Phi costs $249 and is available now.