To get all the good drone stuff — a 4K camera, hover, sonar, tracking, GPS — you usually need to pay up. Drones like the Hover Camera Passport tick all those boxes, but most cost upwards of $500. A new drone from a company called Ruiven seeks to cut down that price by a lot — all the way to $100. Of course, some features have been left on the ground, but for an entry level drone with some nice premium features, the Kudrone could be worth a look.
The palm-sized Kudrone has four exposed propellers that lift it off into the sky, where it can hover in midair without you needing to actively control it thanks to built-in sonar. While it’s hovering, it can put that 4K camera to good use — the drone can do a 360-degree turn in place to take stills or video. Pictures and video can be synced instantly to a smartphone, but the drone will also come with a 16 GB microSD card for storage.
Flying the drone isn’t a huge departure from most other drones we see. There’s a companion app stocked with flight and camera controls. The drone uses a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection for communication, so we’d expect something between 200 and 300 feet for range. The controls include an emergency landing button, but not to worry — should the drone end up out of range, it’ll come back to the user’s last known position.
How does it pull that off? When connected to a phone, the drone will remember where you and your phone are using GPS coordinates. It can also use GPS to follow you around, becoming a serviceable selfie drone. It’s not as sophisticated as the face and body tracking on something like the Hover Camera Passport, but it’s a reasonable replacement for the lower price.
Being $100, you can expect Kudrone to fall short in at least a few areas. The battery will only last about eight minutes — on the short side, but not altogether unheard of for drones, especially ones of this size. Kudrone will come with two batteries that can be swapped quickly when one dies.
Having 4K video is pretty cool, but you’ll probably need the right conditions to really take advantage of it. The lack of gimbal support and the small size figures to make Kudrone vulnerable to windy conditions. But, on paper, it looks like it should perform well indoors for sure. It might not be as sturdy as more expensive drones, either, but the team will include a propeller protection set and an extra set of propellers with the drone, just in case.
The other caveat is that Kudrone is an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. It’s worth mentioning that crowdfunding history is riddled with drone projects that have gone south (Lily, most infamously). But hey, at least this one isn’t as big of a risk. Kudrone has already hit its $50,000 goal, but you can still preorder one for $100. That’s the earliest bird price — the price ticks up from there, and Ruiven eventually plans to sell the drone for $190 at retail.