GDU -- formerly ProDrone -- was one of the first to market with a folding quadcopter, well ahead of DJI and GoPro. At CES 2017 it's unveiled another first for the company: a modular gimbal system that lets you pick the best camera and stabilizer for the task at hand.

Most camera drones don't allow you to use different cameras because they're typically fixed to the body as well as its gimbal. The $999 GDU Byrd Premium 2.0 changes that with its Universal Flying Platform, which lets you easily swap cameras. Controls for the cameras will be available both on the drone's controller and in a mobile app. The drone, available in the next few months, has a video transmission distance of 2,000 meters (1.24 miles).

The camera and gimbal options at first will be:

  • A two-axis dSLR and mirrorless universal gimbal at $169
  • A 4K-resolution 10x zoom camera and gimbal at $999
  • A stretching gimbal that can automatically stretch below the drone's landing gear on take off for an unobstructed view and retract when landing for $499
  • An infrared camera (640x480-pixel resolution) that can measure heat accurately, even under little to no light, priced at $5,299

GDU also announced a collaboration with chipmaker Qualcomm for future drone developments and an Open Platform Partner Program to encourage drone, camera, sensor and software developers to create additional options for its modular design. UK and Australian availability were not announced, but $1,049 converts to about £845 or AU$1,425.