3D Robotics X8+ Modular Drone
This time of the year is heavily packed with new product releases from the major manufacturers of “eye in the sky” technology. After the heavily hyped launch of the new DJI Inspire 1 “prosumer” drone with a $2900 price tag and 4K camera, 3D Robotics now released the X8+ modular drone. To our surprise, the announcement was a very modest one by any standards and there is fairly little to learn about the new product. The promotional video is a mere 26 seconds long, shows the new 3D robotics X8+ among studio conditions and no footage of it being used or ones that have been recorded with the drone. The video still appears as “unlisted” on YouTube, though it is clearly accessible through the 3D Robotics site so we took the liberty to post it for you.
Hmmm. Could this be that the launch was planned for a later date and was rushed to catch up with the DJI announcement?
The 3DR website is also quite short-spoken about the new X8+ and there is no word about it in the News section of their site what so ever. At the same time, the approach of versatility could be a good one to counter the DJI launch as the Inspire 1 is not a list bit modular and promises the opposite of the X8+. It could be appealing to those who prefer a bit more control over their setups. The video suggests that the X8+ should be capable of lifting DSLR cameras a lot heavier than a GoPro, so that could be an advantage as the 4K built in capabilities of the Inspire 1 will probably lure away a lot of semi professional users.
Gigaom, which is associated with 3DR by having the same venture capital investor also has very little information on the new drone. They suggest that “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.” Ok, fair enough, but the Iris+ which we have examined earlier in a post about drones that will follow you does exactly that. The mapping capability should be a good one to learn more about, it’s a pity that there is no word on how that is done (sigh). It should be highlighted a bit more to our opinion as the Inspire 1 launch event included the introduction of a 3rd party app called Pix4D which was at least demonstrated and seems to be available (we will look into that more).
The X8+ has a fairly standard 15 minute flying time which is nothing spectacular and if measured among ideal conditions than the actual time could be more like 10 minutes which might just come short of expectations. Even if it seems that the 3D Robotics X8+ can lift heavier payloads.
At first glance, the $2700 price tag sounds great, but that does not include a camera and gimbal. We went to the 3DR site, built a realistic minimum setup and the price tag came to roughly $2800with just a GoPro Hero3 Silver Edition. Which you might or might not prefer compared to the 4K camera of the Inspire 1, but clearly does not suggest the same value. So is the X8+ a good alternative to the Inspire
We will reach out to 3DR now to try to get you guys more information as the unit was supposed to be shipping starting todayProduct Specs
Battery: 4S 14.8V 10,000 mAh 10C
Autopilot hardware: Pixhawk v2.4.5
Autopilot firmware: ArduCopter 3.2
GPS: 3DR u-blox GPS with Compass (LEA-6H module, 5 Hz update)
Ground Station Radio: 3DR Radio v2 (915 MHz or 433 MHz)
Motors: SunnySky V2216-12 KV800 II (The images above show conical nuts; X8+ ships with hex nuts.)
Controller: FlySky FS-TH9X with FrSky telemetry module
Propellers: APC Propeller 11x4.7 SF (4), APC Propeller 11x4.7 SFP (4)
Dimensions: 13.7 in x 20.1 in x 11.8 in (35 cm x 51 cm x 20 cm)
Payload Capacity: 800 g (1.7 lbs). Additional payload possible up to over 1kg with reduced flight time
Vehicle Weight with Battery: 2.56 kg (5.6 lbs)
Maximum Estimated Flight Time: 15 min.3D Robotics’ X8+ drone is an upgrade on the X8 model in nearly every way. The 8-prop drone is designed to carry GoPro or lightweight mirrorless cameras, while offering a fully automated flight control system starting at $1,350. The X8+ can carry 800 grams (1.76 pounds) and fly up to 18 minutes, but if you’re willing to sacrifice endurance, you can carry up to 2.2 pounds with.
The X8+ can fly a GoPro, but it has a payload capacity that unlocks options for an array of gimbals and cameras, as well as various sensors and even autonomous delivery of small goods. The reason drones have limitless potential is because users have limitless potential.
The X8+ can track you around while keeping you centered in your videos using 3D Robotics’ “Follow Me” mode, handy for filming your own sporty exploits. It also includes open source mission planning software compatible with most PCs and smartphones. Using the DroidPlanner 2 software, you can simply draw lines on a map with an Android device to fly it around, hands-free. You can even map a region-of-interest (ROI) waypoint, to keep the camera locked on a target throughout the flight.
Described as being like “a power drill that you can outfit with different bits,” the quadcopter’s aluminum frame can also be equipped with other user-supplied tools, allowing it to be used for applications such as mapping, point cloud-based surveying, and 3D modeling. It can even be outfitted with a magnetized cargo mount, for the delivery of small items.
When it’s not in use, its propeller arms and legs are able to fold back for transit or storage.
The X8+ can be piloted in real time using an included radio remote control, or it can autonomously follow flight paths plotted on its free mission-planning software. Its flight time ranges up to around 15 minutes, depending on what it’s carrying.