Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
GoPro’s Karma Micro UAS to Launch in October
September 28th, 2016 by Susan Smith
The GoPro Karma quadcopter, a new micro UAS compatible with GoPro’s Hero4 Black+Silver, Hero5 Session and Hero5 Black camera offerings, is set to be released in October.
Mike Winn, Drone Deploy CEO and co-founder, answered questions for GISCafe Voice about drones in general and the entrance into the market of the GoPro Karma. DroneDeploy doesn’t make a drone, but makes software to help autopilot DJI drones for mapping flights and to process imagery into maps and 3D models that can then be viewed, analyzed and shared from DroneDeploy’s cloud platform. Thus with the Karma, GoPro places itself in direct competition with drone veteran company, DJI.
The value of small, foldable drones in the commercial market has yet to be seen, and may be viewed as disruptive technology to some. It does appear from the promotional material on GoPro’s website that the Karma is aimed primarily at the consumer market.
GoPro responded to my calls by asking me to email them or saying they would email me back, but I got no responses, other than I somehow got on their email list for customer support. I don’t own any of their products. Therefore, I’m relegated to product information presented on their website, which has very little information at this time.
The GoPro Karma folds into its own lightweight, compact case that’s comfortable to wear during any activity, according to company materials. It can also be attached or mounted to your bike, or be handheld. Those who have never flown a drone before will be able to enjoy the Karma and its performance. The GoPro Passenger™ App lets friends view your flight and control your GoPro while you fly. The company boasts amazingly smooth footage, and it should be popular with those who currently enjoy the GoPro cameras. It will be made available October 23rd.
“Karma requires purchase of a separate camera,” Winn said in a press release, while recently leaked images of DJI’s Mavic show that DJI will continue to have an integrated camera with what appears to be a redesigned gimbal design. However, he says, “The concept of smaller foldable drones, like GoPro’s Karma, have applications within the commercial drone market. Many of our customers would welcome similar drones, particularly if they are sufficiently lightweight that they would be exempted from the existing flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) regulations.”
A number of questions come up surrounding the use of the Karma, since drones are subject to certain flying regulations and expectations. I asked Mike Winn to address some of them:
GISCafe Voice: Will the Karma be subject to the same regulations as other small drones?
So far, the FAA has not yet released a separate UAS rule for micro drones, so at this point, the Karma drone would be subject to the same Part 107 rule as other drones. However, the FAA claims to be working on a separate ruling for micro UAS.
GISCafe Voice: What is DroneDeploy’s role in the UAS market?
DroneDeploy does not make a drone. We offer software to help autopilot DJI drones for mapping flights and to process imagery into maps and 3D models that can then be viewed, analyzed and shared from DroneDeploy’s cloud platform.
GISCafe Voice: In what areas of your business do you anticipate there will be competition?
Since we are not a drone manufacturer, we do not anticipate competition with the Karma, however, we are interested to see how the Karma will be used for commercial purposes. The use of a wide angle camera on the Karma will limit its commercial mapping applicability, and potentially even distort consumers’ pictures and videos, however the Karma’s small size may allow it to be exempted from beyond visual line of site regulations in the future.
GISCafe Voice: Do you know yet if the Karma will include the features of DroneDeploy such as automated flight safety checks, workflows and real-time mapping and data processing?
At this time, we are not aware of any mapping workflows offered by Karma drone. GoPro has also not offered an SDK to allow 3rd parties to automate flights for purposes like mapping.
GISCafe Voice: Why do you think GoPro used a wide angle camera?
The wide angle camera continues GoPro’s focus on action photography and helps distinguish the Karma drone for photography and video, particularly in the consumer sector.
DroneDeploy has partnered with leading drone manufacturers, including DJI, 3DR and AgEagle, to provide its software to end users in a variety of industries, including agriculture, real estate, mining, construction and many other commercial and consumer arenas.