The 3DR Solo is smart because it allows the user to completely focus on what their camera is capturing and, for all intents and purposes, forget about flying the drone. You can set the Solo on a pre-determined flight, and simply focus on capturing great film. This drone is the 'Smart Drone' because 3D Robotics have integrated 1 GHz computers in both the drone itself, and the radio controller, making for one of the best aerial photography experience available. The Solo also comes with the usual safety and support features that we now expect from a 3DR product.
The Solo was designed and created with the aim of improving the aerial photography experience of every single user; be you a complete beginner, or a seasoned professional. This means that 3DR has created one of the best drones on the market concerning flight dynamics, but they have also factored in a way of allowing first-time flyers to capture amazing footage. The done experiance is not just about the list of features and specs (although the solo does have some impressive specs), what makes a good drone is the ability for it not to break your workflow or become an obstruction to you achieving the perfect shot. 3DR have dedicated the design of the Solo with thousands of hours of testing and user feedback to make for a aerial photography system that is seamless and intuative to make it easy to capture the shot you want, first and every time.
Let's start with the controller of this Smart Drone. This controller itself it actually smarter than most drones on the market today with an in-built 1 GHz computer. This obviously brings much increased processing power to this drone, simplifying flights and giving the user unprecedented control of both the aircraft and the camera.
This controller is also one of the easiest to use out there, therefore allowing complete beginners to take the reins. The look and feel of this controller is inspired by popular video controllers, thereby feeling instantly familiar to everybody; even those who have never held a drone radio controller before. The ease of use of the Solo controller can be experienced through the dedicated buttons for one-touch automatic flight manoeuvres, including auto take-off and landing, auto return home and land, and pause.
The Solo controller has been designed specifically with aerial photography in mind. You can easily access controls to change the camera tilt position, the speed, take a photo and even stop and start your GoPro recording during flight. And you can do all this while a HD view of the scenery is being streamed directly to your mounted mobile device. This is accomplished via the built-in WiFi in the controller that is powered by the computer. This computer also powers a HDMI port in the Solo controller that allows the user to broadcast live pictures from your GoPro onto just about any screen you wish.
When you're dishing out quite a sum of money for one of the best drones on the market, you want your purchase to be safe. The Solo controller therefore has a dedicated 'Pause' button that brings Solo to a complete mid-air stop; allowing you to get your bearings and protect your quadcopter. And you've heard of an aeroplane's black box, well now Solo has its very own 'black box' in the form of the 1 GHz computer in-built in the controller. This saves valuable flight data on 500 parameters to its internal memory, 20 times a second.
3D Robotics are introducing the notion of 'Smart Shots' with this new quadcopter. These are a series of different shots that you set up before flight. Once done, simply tap 'play' and Solo will fly through the process outlined and capture the kinds of shot that even professional cinema pilots can't match. There are four Smart Shots available to the user: Cable Cam, Orbit, Selfie and Follow.
This is the mode for those of you who want to focus entirely on the shot you're capturing, rather than being distracted by having to keep the quad in the air. In this mode, you simply lock Solo onto a virtual cable in the air while you're free to pan, tilt and move your camera in the way that you thinks gets the best picture. Even if you're fairly inexperienced with capturing awesome shots, Solo can memorize the shot at each end point of the 'cable' and fly itself and effortlessly work the camera for you; working as smoothly and evenly as a seasoned pro.
It's also a moments work to set this incredible process up. You simply use the live view on your mobile screen to guide Solo to your preferred start and end points. The quad is then locked on this cable between the two points, and you're free to focus on capturing awesome shots. Or you can simply press 'play' and sit back and admire as Solo handles the camerawork. Capturing incredible shots couldn't be easier!
This is a mode that does exactly what the name suggests; it orbits around an object of focus to get an amazing wrap-around shot. Once your Solo is in the air, you point your GoPro at the object that you want to be the focus of the shot, and press the assigned 'Orbit' button. The GoPro is now fixed on that object and the Solo quadcopter is automatically locked into a circle around this object. The user is then free to adjust the speed and direction of the orbit to capture a perfectly smooth wrap-around shot. As with the Cable Cam mode, there is also an option for the user to sit back and let Solo do all the work. You can again press 'play' and Solo will do it all.
We all like a good selfie and with this quadcopter you can get the most amazing of selfies and beat all your friends! You can get both an expanding zoom out shot with you at the centre while Solo flies away from you, and a zoom in shot as Solo returns to launch. Both offer amazing footage and the best possible selfies imaginable.
Again, putting this into action is one of the easiest operations. You simply place the Solo on the ground in front of you, with the camera facing you, and press 'fly'. Solo will then automatically take off and fly back and up with the GoPro focused directly on you, expanding and revealing the landscape around you. Once Solo has reached its zenith, it will take the same path back to where it took off, capturing an amazing aerial zoom-in shot on the way. You can record the clip directly on your phone to share this unique selfie easily.
In this mode, you can go completely hands-free and simply get Solo to follow you and capture whatever activities you're doing. If you're out in the wilderness taking the road less travelled, on a cruise in the Mediterranean or doing your favourite extreme sport, this mode offers amazing opportunities to capture your every move!
Operation is easy; simply launch Solo and select Follow. The quadcopter is then locked onto your mobile device and since the flight and camera control is taken care of by Solo, you're free to focus on your activity.
The Solo Gimbal has been designed specifically for GoPro and 3DR worked very closely with the team at GoPro to ensure the best design. This gimbal is therefore the first in the world with in-flight access to the GoPro controls. This means that the user can now start and stop recording while Solo is in the air, choosing the shots you want to take and cutting down on all that excess that you get normally. Additionally, the files have now been designed to be smaller, allowing you to save short slips onto your mobile device directly for easy storage and sharing. The Solo Gimbal even powers your GoPro so there's no fear that it will cut out mid-flight.
The Solo Gimbal also of course offers the very best in stability and intelligence. The gimbal is stabilised to within 0.1 degree of pointing accuracy, allowing for the smoothest shots. The gimbal works with the GoPro's and the Solo's controller, giving you a fine-grain camera tilt control including angle pre-sets and instant speed adjustments. Alternatively, you can let Solo take the reins and choose one of the Smart Shots to capture that perfect picture.
The app that has been designed for the Solo doesn't leave a stone unturned for the new user in aerial photography. There are one-touch controls for all the Solo Smart Shots, there's live HD feed from your GoPro so you can see exactly what's going on and you even have access to GoPro during flight. The app also allows you to simply and comprehensibly changes Solo's speed, agility and maximum altitude and also assign controller button pre-sets.
There are multiple viewing options to improve the user's awareness significantly. You can choose between the live feed from your GoPro or you can simply swipe across to pull out the split-screen satellite view, showing you where Solo is in relation to the earth. This has pinpoint accuracy and with this screen you can simultaneously keep an eye on your camera work, as well control Solo's flight path.
The Solo app also updates you on any changes to your quadcopter, controller or gimbal. If Solo detects any sort of problem, the app will alert you of this fact and allow you to automatically email the support team at 3DR, even while still in the field.