Quadrotor drones have been the de facto platform for aerial photography for several years now, but that doesn’t mean they’re actually the optimal tool for every job. They’re speedy, which makes them ideal for capturing action sports like snowboarding or surfing. But, they have very short continuous flight times, and the vibration from the motors makes video nearly unwatchable without an expensive camera gimbal. Airpup solves both problems by putting the camera on a balloon-kite hybrid that can quietly stay aloft indefinitely.
Airpup resembles a blimp, but it’s completely unpowered and floats with a combination of helium and kite-like airfoils. This setup has a number of benefits when compared to a conventional drone. First, you can fly it in the parks where drones are restricted — which is becoming increasingly common. Second, Airpup’s natural buoyancy allows it to fly without interruptions all day long. And, finally, there is no motor vibration or noise to ruin your video and annoy the people around you.
An inflated Airpup measures 6 feet long and 3.5 feet wide, and should just barely fit into an SUV or large hatchback. The payload capacity is only 1lb, but that’s more than enough for a GoPro HERO4, which weighs about a third of a pound with the case included. You may even have enough capacity left over to carry a simple pan-tilt mechanism. It’s designed to be flown with a tether, like a kite, so you won’t have the freedom that you get with a drone. But, if you want a more relaxed aerial photography experience, Airpup looks great.
UPDATE: Airpup is now available on Crowd Supply, where it can be purchased for $499 ($399 for early birds) or rented for a week for $199 ($99 for early birds). Delivery is slated for May-June 2019.