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AirDog: Auto-follow Drone for GoPro Camera. Designed for sports enthusiasts, outdoor fans and indie moviemakers. Shipping in November. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on July 26, 2014.

AirDog: Auto-follow Drone for GoPro Camera. Designed for sports enthusiasts, outdoor fans and indie moviemakers. Shipping in November.

About this project

You can still pre-order and buy AirDog here: www.airdog.com

AIRDOG ON REUTERS
Watch latest BBC TECH NEWS episode about AirDog
Bloomberg TV Taking Stock interview with AirDog CEO
CNET's Daily Tomorrow take on AirDog

AirDog is a small, agile, foldable quadcopter, especially designed for filmmakers and action sports enthusiasts who use GoPro cameras.

Like its canine namesake, AirDog automatically follows you wherever you go, whatever you do. It’s not bothered by pelting rain, freezing temps, massive waves, or freaking insane places. AirDog doesn’t say “no.” It just follows, flying right along.

AirDog is your sidekick, just in case you can’t rent a helicopter plus professional photographer to take a video of your black diamond run. AirDog is your personal training assistant, allowing you to review what you’re doing right, and where you need to improve. AirDog can transport you to views that you never thought possible. AirDog can persuade others to join you in your extremes.

Just strap the AirLeash (tracker device) on your wrist or helmet, and the AirDog is ready to follow you.

Smartphone is only for adjusting advanced settings. GoPro App provides live video stream to your phone.
Smartphone is only for adjusting advanced settings. GoPro App provides live video stream to your phone.

Inside, AirDog is really complex technology. But using and controlling AirDog is really simple.

Here’s the basic idea

AirDog follows a signal from the programmable tracker - AirLeash. We could use a smartphone, but you need more precise tracking for actions sports. So we designed AirLeash.

The AirLeash is a small waterproof computerized tracker with clever software and sensors inside. It sends signals to the AirDog, indicating exact movement trajectory.

It may look bulky now, but as soon as we start production it will be half the size and with multiple attachment opportunities (helmet, snow-googles, wrist, bike handle-bar, etc)

AirLeash shown in this picture is current working prototype. It is going to be two times smaller when we launch production.
AirLeash shown in this picture is current working prototype. It is going to be two times smaller when we launch production.

The drone performs inflight calculations to correct its flying pattern, and points the camera at the user wearing AirLeash.

Takeoff and landing is completely autonomous, freeing you to focus on your performance. It will land at the end of your track, or return to the takeoff spot when the battery begins to run low. An alarm on the AirLeash tells you when AirDog’s battery is too low to continue.

We spent countless caffeine-fueled hours, hacking intelligent flight code algorithms. The result is functionality that allows AirDog to follow you while you’re riding down the slope or flipping around on a halfpipe. You don’t have to worry about controlling the camera.

Strap it on, cue it up, and do epic things.

There are six Follow modes that you can configure and control with your AirLeash and smartphone app. Each one is a great choice and will deliver stunning results, regardless of your sport. You’ll probably want to use all six.

1. Auto-follow. Will work with almost any sports. In this mode AirDog will follow you repeating exactly your movement trajectory while maintaining its position in preset distance and altitude from you. It will follow you at speeds up to 40 mph.

2. Relative position follow. In this mode AirDog will maintain constant offset relative to magnetic north from the rider. For example, you can set it to keep a 10 meter distance at 4 meters high to the east from your position. Even when you change your direction, the AirDog will stay at the same preset angle from you. We suggest this mode for straight line wakeboard cable parks, surfing, and some other sports.

3. Follow track. This is the safest way to operate AirDog. Simply go for one lap with AirLeash and it will record your track. Then adjust AirDogs trajectory to your liking in smartphone app. AirDog will repeatedly fly over the exact set trajectory and the camera will be continually adjusted to aim at the rider.This is the most creative mode where you can become a true director of your movie. Adjust AirDog's trajectory to avoid obstacles like buildings or trees. You can even make it to shoot you from different angle on different spots/kickers in the track. It might sound complicated, but its a simple few tap process in AirDog smartphone app.

4. Hover and Aim. The Hover and Aim setting allows AirDog to stay in one position above the ground, but constantly directing the camera at the AirLeash. This setting is perfect for tight places such as smaller skateparks, narrow forest trails, or for activities such as bungee jumping or base jumping, where clearance from equipment is important.

5. Circle. In this setting, AirDog makes circular rotations on a set radius and altitude, keeping the camera aimed at the AirLeash. This for slow speed or static shots to show impressive view around you.

6. Look down. The most simple mode but can produce very stunning results. Simply "walk" your AirDog above a ramp or kicker where you are about to throw some epic tricks and with push of a button it will freeze its position and aim camera straight down. Now make sure you don't go too high.

Not satisfied with all these amazing options? No worries.

We’ll always be adding new flight modes through firmware and app updates. We depend on user feedback to continually develop Airdog into something that’s jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring.

The AirDog is designed to go farther and higher than you thought possible. If you’ve ever wanted to shoot an edgy music video from off a cliff, the AirDog is your solution. If you’re shooting an indie movie, and want some clutch aerial shots for the car chase scene, the AirDog is happy to oblige.

Obstacle Avoidance

Our team of engineers has started development of a software based and community driven obstacle avoidance solution. It means that you will be able to define a 3 dimensional "no-fly zones" using our AirDog app.  This will enable use of AirDog even in places where simple following wouldn't be possible or would be dangerous.  

AirDog community generated "no-fly zone" maps of your favorite wakeboarding cable parks, MX tracks, bike trails, snow-parks and ski resorts and other unimaginable places will be stored in a Cloud and available for download to all AirDog community members. So whenever you come to a place where someone has made a "no-fly zone" map - you simply download it, sync it with your AirDog and you are ready for a safe flight.

There can't be too much safety when we are talking about drones. We are really excited to be able to implement this safety feature already in the first version of AirDog. And this is just the beginning. We have plenty of rad ideas and concepts on our roadmap and by becoming the owner of the AirDog you are putting a bet on the most advanced personal drone out there. 

Here is little longer story about why we created “AirLeash”

The AirDog uses a unique dedicated tracker called “AirLeash” that guides and controls the AirDog in flight. Why did we invent a new device? Why not just use a smartphone app?

A year ago when we started developing the AirDog, we thought it would be a great idea to make AirDog follow a smartphone. We abandoned this idea really quickly.

Here’s why.

1. Smarphone's Poor Usability in Many Sports Have you ever tried to use your smartphone while surfing a huge wave? Yeah, the water might be a problem. How about using it while executing a cab 5 double grab? Those gloves would kind of get in the way. What about emergency situations, where terminating flight and landing the AirDog is important?

A smartphone was simply not an option if we wanted to maintain safety or efficiency.

2. Lack of Vital Sensors for Precise Auto-follow In testing, we discovered that average smartphone GPS accuracy in a horizontal plane is about 5-10 meters. The margin of error doubles when measuring altitude.

We realized that if we wanted a precise flight tracker, we needed extremely high level sensors. In addition, we would have to develop complicated sensor fusion algorithms to calculate and predict movement trajectory while keeping the camera aimed at rider all the time.

Technologically, no smartphone has such capabilities.

3. Limited WiFi and Bluetooth range Different smartphones have different ranges, but it was clear that anything beyond 30-50 meters was not possible. This can be problem when you’re surfing out in the ocean 350 meters from the drone, and want it to launch and come to you. Or, let’s say you’re riding downhill at 30 mph, and the drone just loses signal. You could potentially lose your drone forever! The stringent standards of AirDog required something with long range power.

As amazing as smartphones are, they simply can’t meet the high demands of many action sports. In true innovation style, we ditched our idea, went back to the drawing board, and created a solution.

The result is better than we hoped. It’s an easy-to-use, sturdy, reliable, long range wireless transmission and custom-developed tracker. It’s called AirLeash.

What do you get when you throw aviation experts, entrepreneurs, programmers, developers, and extreme sports fanatics into a box, and shake it up?

You get us. We’re kind of a quirky group.

Our team at all its glory
Our team at all its glory

We love doing something fanatical like MX, wakeboarding, snowboarding, kitesurfing, skating, surfing, or other daredevil stunts. But when we get sort of serious, we’re cooking up technology that’s just as extreme as the action sports we love.

AirDog is the product of years of development, the pinnacle of drone technology, the apex of sports videography. (And it took a heck of a lot of coffee.)

Now, we’re ready to introduce this mind-blowing technology to extreme sports fans all over the world.

This invention is a dream come true.

If you’re already an experienced remote control (RC) pilot, you’ll love Airdog’s manual flight features. Although AirDog boasts fully autonomous flight modes, you can also use it for FPV (First Person View) or indoor video shooting with your RC transmitter. Simply connect any TX module that supports PPM mode and has more than 6 channels, and fly AirDog completely manually.

But there’s more! You can combine AirDog’s auto-follow feature with manual control. Simply attach the AirLeash tracker to the object you want to shoot — car, boat, animal, whatever — and manually turn follow mode on or off whenever you want to switch to or from manual mode. This way, you can use the auto-follow tracker with enhanced RC maneuvers to make circular fly-around moves at the precise radius and speed.

With this amazing combination of auto-follow and manual control, AirDog is a total game changer in aerial video shooting. You won’t believe the creative possibilities.

So you want to make videos that look drop dead awesome, professional, and really top-notch. We get that.

We designed AirDog, while chanting the mantra “stable, stable, stable.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that, but you get the idea. We think stability is important, and we obsessed over it.

AirDog uses  2 axis gyro-stabilized gimbal with the following features to make sure that your aerial videos are as stable as a tripod on a granite slab. Here’s what we engineered:

- Auto pitch and yaw - camera will always be pointed to the tracker;
- Horizon alignment (roll stabilization);
- Vibration isolation;
- AirDog is the only drone that carries GoPro in its protective casing, your camera will be happy for that.

In other words, your GoPro footage is stable as anything, even while airborne, even while flying at 40 mph, and even while tracking your progress on the slalom.

To use AirDog, simply attach your GoPro to the drone’s gimbal and you’re ready for stable action shots.

Early gimbal prototype test demonstrates camera stability. 

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AirDog has its own app (iOS & Android), giving you full control of the device. AirDog can operate with AirLeash only, but app let's you control more advanced features.

With the app, you can control the distance, height, and angle. You can create custom flight paths of your favorite tracks and map out shooting presets. 

Smartphone integration means that total flight control is just a tap away.

Extreme sports are about extreme conditions. Even your equipment needs to have extreme designs.

AirDog is all about extremes.

This drone is as tough as they come. If we had to pick what type of dog we modelled it after, we’d have to pick the bulldog. (With wings.)

The AirDog’s design has the following features:

  • Foldable arms

  • Impact-resistant body

  • Fold-down props

  • Weather resistant

  • Lightweight

  • Collision-sensitive motor shutdown

  • Prop guard (will be released later as an accessory)

  • Easy repair

AirDog defies the limits of your expectations:

  • You can stuff it in your backpack and go.

  • You can expect it to perform in subzero temperatures

  • You can force it to follow you through wind, waves, rain, sleet, and snow. 

The AirDog is designed to withstand impact. The prop guard, an optional accessory, provides further protection to the AirDog and bystanders. Replacement parts are available, and can be easily installed using simple tools.

We ship November 2014

For too long, the drone has been synonymous with warfare. We’ve designed a drone with a very different purpose.

We think it’s time for a  new generation of drones that inspire creativity, enjoyment of nature, healthy lifestyles, and self expression.

AirDog is on a mission to help us achieve that.

The future of the AirDog project is in your hands. You have the chance to be part of a technological breakthrough.

We’ve had a blast — a year of building, testing, developing, dreaming, creating, toiling, and getting ready.

Now, it’s go time.

Everything is ready. From the final design, to the component suppliers, to the production lines — the final phase we’re waiting on is you. 

You can be part of the first generation of AirDog users, dreamers, and pioneers. You can be the first owner of the AirDog.

All AirDog standard kits come with the following:

You have demands. AirDog meets them:

  • Durable and weather resistant construction

  • 10-20 minutes flight time depending on flight speed

  • Interchangeable 14.8 V, 4000mAh, LiPo batteries

  • Wind resistance up to 28 knots (14 m/s)

  • Top speed, 40 mph (software limited)

  • AirLeash range up to 1000 feet (300m)

  • Operational ceiling, 3000 meters above sea level (9800 feet)

  • Weight 3.08 lbs (1.4 kg). 3.96 lbs (1.8 kg) with battery

Continue to our update page

Risks and challenges

Even though we are relatively new as a group, our team members have spent their professional careers building highly complex hardware and electronic devices. The design and development of AirDog is a product of our expertise.

AirDog’s manufacturing will be carried out by HansaMatrix. HansaMatrix is one of the premier Nordic and Baltic contract electronics manufacturing companies. They are one of the leading OEMs for the region’s industrial, transportation, telecom, renewable energy, medical and defense markets. With their adherence to top quality (ISO9001:2008; ISO13485:2003; ISO14001:2004 certified), they have achieved excellent sales records in eight countries. HansaMatrix operates two state-of-the-art manufacturing plants in the Baltic region.

AirDog and HansaMatrix have forged a partnership that is built upon existing relationships, previous cooperation and mutual trust. We are confident that HansaMatrix will manufacture a product with extremely high quality, and with the capability to scale up to high volume production.

HansaMatrix currently has all the necessary skills and resources in-house to deal with sourcing of components, electronics manufacturing, complete product assembling, system development and testing. In addition, they are also vetted to handle shipping directly from the warehouse to AirDog buyers.

Through the course of design and development, we have created several generations of AirDog prototypes. The current beta prototype has been in testing for four months. From a hardware perspective, AirDog is completely ready. The final component of production is software development. Our development schedule states completion of the software in 2014 August, a deadline that we are fully capable of achieving.

Our goal in this Kickstarter effort is to give to you, our backers, an expertly-designed, quality-tested, and sports-ready version of AirDog. In spite of the thousands of hours of testing by engineers, developers, scientists, sports-enthusiasts, and athletes, we believe that there’s no such thing as “enough testing.”

During our Kickstarter campaign, we will put the testing pedal to the metal. Through an aggressive hard-driving tour across California, we’re going to place AirDog into the hands of as many action sports lovers as possible. We are inveterate evangelists of user experience. Seeing is not believing. Doing, holding, touching, and operating is believing. At the risk of being labelled show-offs, we’re ready to take AirDog to the next level.

Now, it’s your turn. We’ve made you wait long enough. Now, you can enjoy the fruits of our labor, and more importantly, enjoy the action sport you love so much — with AirDog right above you.

World, meet Airdog.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

  • - Action sports has aggressive movement so it needs precise tracking. AirLeash - waterproof precision motion tracker with array of inertial sensors. It is easier to use, safer and much more precise than a smartphone based GPS-only tracking. We abandoned smartphone based solution after tests 6 months ago as not satisfactory for action sports;

    - Waterproof tracker enables you to shoot videos above water (surf, wake, kite) without range issues and with delayed take-off option;

    - control range: 300m vs 50m;

    - Tracker is easy to use with gloves or on helmet when it is out of sight (big push buttons);

    - Dual-axis camera gimbal designed for heavier setup: GoPro in it's protective waterproof case. Your camera will appreciate that. (AirDog is the only drone that offers this);

    - low profile foldable design, so it's backpack friendly;

    - thought-out and really useful flight and filming modes: record lap, aim &shoot, circle around plus many dedicated modes for different action sports, because in every sports you need a bit different settings from our experience. It is not just about sending drone to a GPS coordinates;

    - increased wind resistance. Copters under 1.2 kg (2.5 pounds) will struggle to fight winds of 5 m/s (10 knots) and more;

    - the system already exists, it can be demonstrated and is getting ready for mass production;

    - all the aerial footage you see in our promo video is filmed with actual AirDog prototype with auto-follow modes, no pilot, no manual control, no post stabilization;
    AirDog is designed for aggressive maneuvers providing 3D camera pointing, including pitch control - keeps you in the middle of the frame at all times;

    - AirDog has a landing gear and camera gimbal positioned in front, so it will not be damaged during landing.

    Last updated:
  • AirDog supports GoPro Hero3/3+ cameras with protective waterproof case.

    Last updated:
  • Our team of engineers has started development of a software based and community driven obstacle avoidance solution. It means that you will be able to define a 3 dimensional "no-fly zones" using our AirDog app. This will enable use of AirDog even in places where simple following wouldn't be possible or would be dangerous.

    AirDog community generated "no-fly zone" maps of your favorite wakeboarding cable parks, MX tracks, bike trails, snow-parks and ski resorts and other unimaginable places will be stored in a Cloud and available for download to all AirDog community members. So whenever you come to a place where someone has made a "no-fly zone" map - you simply download it, sync it with your AirDog and you are ready for a safe flight.

    Last updated:
  • Yes. And there is no stabilization in post-production used.

    Last updated:

Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    276 backers

    AIRDOG CADET
    You’re ready to rock AirDog? Join us. With your AirDog cadet contribution of $10 or more, you will join the ranks of AirDog enthusiasts all across the planet.

    Rewards: Up-to-the-minute information about updates and “Proud Supporter of AirDog Digital Badge” to announce on your website and across social media.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    Pledge $195 or more

    23 backers

    EXTRA AIRLEASH
    Expand capabilities of your AirDog.
    With TWO trackers you will be able to shoot two riders with one AirDog. Just press a button on AirLeash and AirDog will switch between trackers. With EXTRA AIRLEASH you can upgrade any AirDog kit to AIRDOG MASTER which allows you to gain more control of follow-me footage. Use it for creative filming and live event broadcasting. Ships together with other AirDog kits.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $995 or more

    100 backers All gone!

    AIRDOG EARLYBIRD
    Limit: 100
    AirDog EarlyBirds can feel the thrum of the rotocopters, and the svelte contours of the AirLeash. You’re ready for this? Well we’re ready for you.

    Rewards: You’re going to receive the AirDog at this rock-bottom price (estimated retail price after the campaign will be set at $1500 USD). We’ve had to limit this offer, because we know we’re close to taking a loss. But we think it’s worth it.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,195 or more

    327 backers

    AIRDOG PILOT
    At this pledge level, your commitment is boundless. You clearly want AirDog to succeed. But let’s just cut to the chase. You want an AirDog.

    Rewards: This Kickstarter contribution deserves rewards. You will position yourself at the top of the list for AirDog recipients. You’re paid up, written down, and guaranteed a spot on our mailing list when the AirDogs hit airmail. The first AirDog shipment is headed your way (estimated retail price after the campaign will be set at $1500 USD)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $1,345 or more

    275 backers

    AIRDOG MASTER
    You're the director of your aerial video footage. But most skillful video directors have their assistants. So do you. You get AIRDOG PILOT kit + 2nd remote for your assistant director. He will fine-tune those shots to perfection.
    Your assistant can adjust distance, altitude and angle, change modes and presets, pause and restart the follow-mode.
    If the AirDog needs a battery change during the ride your assistant commands it to come down, changes the battery and lets it run again and continue filming.
    KILLER FEATURE - with TWO trackers you will be able to shoot two riders with one AirDog. Just press a button on AirLeash and AirDog will switch between trackers.
    This mode can be used for creative filming of moving targets and live broadcasting.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $2,045 or more

    220 backers Limited (30 left of 250)

    AIRDOG BUDDY
    You’re getting on board with enough AirDog excitement for two! This is what we call a true partnership. Get ready to receive double the fun.

    Rewards: You will receive two standard AirDog kits — one for you, and one for a buddy. Or, if you open it up and decide you want them, both... It’s okay. We understand.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (40 days)