In a much anticipated announcement, GoPro Inc. has officially become an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturer by launching the Karma drone.
Today, GoPro’s founder and CEO, Nicholas Woodman, introduced the new UAS to international press at the base of Squaw Valley, Calif., near Lake Tahoe. In addition, the company is rolling out a new line of HERO5 cameras and cloud-based software.
“With these new products, we’re delivering on our promise to make it easy to capture and share engaging stories,” said Woodman.
Karma, which GoPro has branded “much more than a drone,” features a compact design that fits in a small backpack, the Karma case, says the company. In addition, it comes with an image-stabilization grip that can be handheld or can be mounted to vehicles and other gear.
A game-style controller features an integrated touch display and eliminates the need for a separate phone or tablet to see what the quadcopter sees, according to GoPro, which is also releasing the GoPro Passenger app, which lets others view someone else’s flight and control the camera.
New York City-based B&H Photo, which will be offering the drone this fall, notes that the gimbal’s mounting position is a bit unusual: The camera is placed at the front, rather than under the aircraft. This enables the HERO to achieve a greater tilt range – with a tradeoff of more restricted panning, which can be compensated for by rotating the entire drone. B&H says it also helps make aircraft orientation very clear; you can always distinguish the front based on which way the camera is pointing.
In addition, B&H says the Karma powers from a 5100mAh LiPo flight battery that will keep the drone in the air for up to 20 minutes. The UAS also features GPS and autopilot-assisted features such as automatic return-home and no-fly zones. It also includes video flight modes including the dronie/selfie mode; cable cam for aerial tracking shots; orbit for circular shot; and reveal, which starts close and pulls back dramatically.
B&H adds that the aircraft integrates with the HERO5 Black, HERO5 Session, HERO4 Back or HERO4 Silver cameras from GoPro.
Karma will be available Oct. 23 in the following bundles:
- Karma without a GoPro camera for $799.99; and
- Karma bundled with the HERO5 Black for $1,099.99.
The Karma bundled with the HERO5 Session will be available early next year for $999.99.
In December of last year, GoPro released the name of the Karma in a video entitled “GoPro: Karma is Coming.” In another teaser video earlier this year, GoPro went to the ski slopes in Aspen, Colo., to offer a glimpse of what the UAS will be capable of.
To cement its future place in the commercial UAS sector, the company joined the Drone Manufacturers Alliance earlier this year, along with 3DR, DJI and Parrot.
Woodman added at the press event, “We’re stoked to launch Karma and show how much more it is than a drone. Karma packs Hollywood-caliber aerial, handheld and gear-mounted image stabilization into a backpack for $799. It’s so easy to use, a beginner can have fun straight away.”