Most small drones are based on a multi-copter design and use a vertical lift generated by the electric engines to fly and stay up in the air.
The advantage of this approach is to be able to take off and land pretty much anywhere and allows for extremely agile flights, which you can see in drones racing competitions.
The downside of pure vertical lift is that it spends a lot of energy just fighting gravity, and that reduces flight time, big time.
The THIRDEYE ROBOTICS’s “JI-HO” Drone has a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability, which gives it the advantage of not requiring a flat surface to take off and land. Once in the air, t can switch to a fixed-wing mode to maximize speed and endurance.
Like a traditional aircraft, the wings provide lift, and that saves a lot of energy compared to helicopter-type drones. The Ji-Ho drone can fly non-stop for 120mn at a speed of 35mph.
Such endurance and speed mean that it can potentially cover a huge surface area (depending on altitude), which is why ThirdeyeRobotics promotes usage models such as aerial surveys. The camera apparatus is stored in the belly of the drone, facing down.
At CES 2020, the camera inside the drone was a Sony A7, which is great since lenses are interchangeable, depending on the task at hand.
The drone seemed to be able to receive many other types of cameras, but there was no compatibility list available. We’re pretty sure that many Sony NEX series would fit as well.
Our previous experience with a fixed-wing drone was with the Parrot Disco in 2016 (watch our Disco demo video), and although there are similarities, the Ji-Ho drone is meant for professional use and is much bigger than the Disco.
They, however, share the same kind of general shape, design, and materials, so we thought that it was worth mentioning Parrot’s drone.
Unlike the Disco, the Ji-Ho drone does not have a camera in the nose, but we’ve seen footage of similar THIRDEYE ROBOTICS drones with a GoPro mount at the front. It may not be a complete substitute, but it’s an option. For example, here’s footage of the slightly more powerful Y3 drone from ThirdeyeRobotics:
The Ji-Ho drone can carry 3Kg of payload in case people want to use it for deliveries. It is mostly designed to fly on a pre-determined path, but it is possible to manually take over in case of an emergency.
The company says that its Ground Control Station (GCS) enables smartphones and tablets to serve as controllers without requiring an LTE connection.
There’s no suggested price on the official website, but the alternatives we’ve seen are priced at $4000+, so we’re guessing that Ji-Ho is priced competitively.
At CES 2020, THIRDEYE ROBOTICS is part of the Seoul Pavilion, in the Las Vegas Sands Convention center, Hall-G #51223.