Hover 2 self-flying selfie drone adds AI smarts and obstacle avoidance

The lightweight Hover Camera Passport drone from Zero Zero Robotics, with its distinctive caged propellors, flew somewhat under the radar (so to speak) when it arrived in late 2016.

The idea was to provide an easy gateway to drone photography, rather than provide a quadcopter experience intended to match the DJI Mavic Pro drones of the world. An update in April 2017 brought the ability for the device to follow and record its owners without the need for a smartphone.

The new Hover 2, announced this week, builds on that update while including most of the original’s popular features. The foldable form factor and its carbon fibre enclosure remains. It also offers a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor promising four times the power of its predecessor.

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Physically speaking there’s a new pop-out swivelling optical radar which adds obstacle avoidance to the drone, regardless of which direction that obstacle is coming from. This also delivers advanced tracking capabilities deriving from the AI in the Snapdragon processor (unnamed). Now the device will use all three cameras to keep tabs on a moving target.

The main camera has been updated to 12-megapixel sensor that is suspended on a a 2-axis gimbal, which can go from -90 to 0 degrees. Naturally, it can record 4K video.

Perhaps the biggest update is the battery, which now offers up a maximum flight time of 23 minutes with a 5km range, compared to the 10 minutes offered by the original. It’s also weighs almost twice as much as before, leaping to 1.1lbs. There’s less internal memory (8GB down from 32GB), but its bolstered by the additional of microSD expansion up to 128GB.

The Hover 2 is now live on Kickstarter (via Engadget) with an estimated March 2019 shipping date. Early bird offers are available from $399.

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