LAS VEGAS -- However odd the name AirDog might sound for a drone, it is incredibly accurate.
The auto-following quadcopter tracks its subject, keeping its eye -- a front-mountedor -- locked on to capture every move.
Unlike many of the drones we've seen at CES 2015 that are similar in size, the AirDog does not have or need a large remote control. Instead you get an AirLeash: basically an armband with a small box with a control pad on it. Using long-range Bluetooth, the AirDog is wirelessly tethered to it, leading the drone around so that it keeps up with whatever you're doing.
I sat and watched as the drone smoothly turned back and forth as it tracked the movements of a skateboarder rolling from one end of a half pipe to the other. When he stopped, it stopped and hovered, waiting for its next command. It's completely autonomous from takeoff to landing.
That's not to say that you can't fly manually with a radio transmitter, because you can. Or even a combination of both. The directional buttons on the AirLeash can be used to move the AirDog into place, too. But the idea is that if you just want to go out and shoot video of yourself on your own, the AirDog is ready to follow.
The whole thing folds down into a very tidy package and even the propellers fold in half so you can easily slip it in a bag. And since it doesn't require a remote transmitter, the AirDog is about as grab-and-go as it gets -- the whole thing, with a GoPro camera, only weighs 4 pounds (1.85kg) with its removable battery.
Battery life is estimated to be between 10 and 20 minutes depending on the speed it's flying (it can get up to 40mph, or 64kph) and how much wind it has to fight to keep up with you.
There's an app too. With the app you can currently program the AirDog to do things like hover and point the camera straight down or just turn in place to stay on the subject, circle you at a set radius and altitude or, of course, follow your every move from a preset distance. The plan is to keeping adding program options for different sports or activities.
The AirDog is currently available for preorder for $1,295 and expected to ship in the second quarter of 2015. That package includes the drone, an AirLeash, a gyro-stabilized gimbal to mount a camera on and a battery and charger. UK and Australian details were not announced, but the US price converts to around £860 or AU$1,600.