Drone technology takes a step forward as a Latvian company design a flying camera system that can autonomously follow a target - from a rider to a rally car - without a pilot, opening up new possibilities for sports filming and more. Joel Flynn looks in.
In the world of extreme sports, finding ways to film your tricks, twists, and turns can be difficult. But now the bird's eye view that wakeboarders, skateboarders, skiiers and bladers have come to love no longer needs a pilot. This is AirDog, and it flies itself. Janis Spogis helped make it. SOUNDBITE: Helico Aerospace Industries Co-Founder, Janis Spogis, saying (Latvian): "The user wears a bracelet around his wrist that controls the drone with sensors that monitor the user's route. The drone then moves towards them and focuses the camera. The technology was difficult to develop, and I would say there's at least five new concepts in it that have not been used anywhere else in the world." Weighing about 1.6 kilograms and with a top speed of about 70 kilometres an hour the drone is highly versatile. It's still in the testing stages. But the promise of the concept even at this early stage is getting people like Janis Eglite, whose drifting this racing car around the track, very excited. SOUNDBITE: Racing Car Driver, Janis Eglite, saying (Latvian): "A lot of people in sport are already involved with using video so I can see this becoming very popular. It's still got some weakness because it's being tested, but the finished product will be amazing." Helico Aerospace Industries, AirDog's creator, are trying to make improvements before a planned rollout in November. Its operational distance is between 300 and 500 metres but battery limitations mean it currently only operates for around 15 minutes. But the community funded project is now approaching a million dollars' worth of funding. And if it can keep up with 800 brake horsepower, AirDog's future looks likely to be anything but up in the air.