The drone wars are heating up, and I don’t mean robots battling it out in the sky. Today, 3D Robotics revealed the X8+, a drone with swappable parts that is equally comfortable taking photographs, carrying a small package and mapping terrain. It doesn’t have the total photography package the new DJI Inspire 1 is shaping up to offer, but its modularity will make it appealing to anyone who needs that extra flexibility and control.
At $1,350, the X8+ is less than half the price of an Inspire 1, though it doesn’t come with a camera. Instead, you can attach whatever camera you would like. That includes GoPros but also light professional cameras (including plenty of choices that allow for higher quality images than the 12 megapixels the Inspire 1 can manage).
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.
The drone has a fairly standard flying time of 15 minutes, though that drops if it is carrying any cargo. It is available now.
Here’s a video of me interviewing Chris Anderson, co-founder and CEO of 3D Robotics, at Structure Connect last month:
Photo by 3D Robotics.
Disclosure: 3D Robotics is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.