As you’ll know if you’ve watched the official product introduction video, Zero Zero Robotics’ Hover Camera is rather impressive. So was I, but after trying out the drone’s flight capabilities, I’m somewhat disappointed in its real-world performance and have to say that this so-called selfie dronie is severely limited in the following two areas.
Issue 1: Unreliable Positioning System
Unlike most other drones in the consumer market, the Hover Camera uses a downward-facing 3-megapixel camera and a sonar underneath to help stabilize the aircraft, instead of GPS or GLONASS. This creates a problem in stability that means that the small drone can neither maintain steady flight, hover stably, or even maintain its altitude while in flight. Anything that passes under the aircraft will affect its positioning as it flies.
Here’s an example. Put your hand underneath the aircraft and the sonar system will measure the distance between the aircraft and your hand and use that to re-position itself, instead of maintaining its actual height above ground. In practice, this means that when you fly the Hover Camera across uneven ground, its height will fluctuate up and down.
I tried placing an object underneath the Hover Camera while it was hovering and then lifted the object upwards toward the drone. Guess what happened? The aircraft speeded up and kept flying upwards until it crashed into the ceiling. To land it, I had to open the mobile app, connect to the drone via Wi-Fi, and manually land it, or it wouldn’t land until it run out of charge.
Issue 2: Positioning Greatly Affected by Lighting Conditions
As it turns out, the Hover Camera’s flight performance depends largely on lighting conditions which means its use is limited in many situations. Without enough light when flying indoors, the drone is not able to position itself accurately or to hover stably. Instead, it becomes hard to control during flight, not to mention using it to take selfies.
When I tried flying the drone indoors, its hover performance was acceptable with two lights turned on. When I turned off one of the lights, the drone started to drift as a result of not being fully able to calculate its position. With both lights off, it was unable to position itself or hover at all. So, because of its visual positioning system, light conditions are a huge factor in the Hover Camera’s flight performance.
Reliable, steady flight performance is a fundamental condition for aerial photography. If the drone is not able to fly properly, how can it be used to take photos and videos? Therefore, my conclusion after trying out the Hover Camera is that rather than the groundbreaking selfie drone I’d expected, it’s more like an overpriced toy.
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