V-Coptr Falcon 4K camera drone gets 50-minute flight time with just two rotors
The compact folding bicopter from Zero Zero Robotics promises to stay in the air a lot longer than its quadcopter competition.
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Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
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Ask anyone who owns a camera drone what their main gripe is and the answer is likely short flight times. Drone maker Zero Zero Robotics says its upcoming V-Coptr Falcon will blow past industry standards by staying in the air for up to 50 minutes. And it didn't do it by bulking up the battery, but by going from a typical four-rotor design to using just two that tilt.
Partially inspired by the V-22 Osprey, the bicopter's tilt-rotor design offers a two-fold efficiency gain to achieve its greater flight time, said Zero Zero Robotics' COO Emily Wang. Going with two rotors is more compact and efficient than a quadcopter, but the aerodynamics are also a lot better.
"With a quad-rotor design, you have a lot more air resistance because basically as it flies forward the whole top (of the drone) ends up facing the direction of flight," Wang said. "With tilt-rotor technology, the profile stays more or less the same the entire time you're flying. We really think it's going to be a game changer and it's a really big breakthrough."
The company might not be as familiar a name as DJI or Parrot, but Zero Zero Robotics already had some success with its first two drones, the Hover Camera Passport and Hover 2. Those two were mainly about safely getting great selfies on the spot without worrying about piloting. Even under ideal conditions, though, their flight times maxed out around 20 minutes.
Sadly, that's not unusual: Consumer camera drones at the V-Coptr's size typically get 20 to 30 minutes of flight time. That really limits how far you can fly before you have to think about the return trip in order to land safely. Extending the flight time to 50 minutes means you'll have greater flexibility in distance and number of locations on a single charge as well as the number of shots you'll be able to capture in one flight.
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From a shooting-features standpoint, the V-Coptr Falcon is a pure aerial photography drone, Wang said. It'll record video at up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second and snap 12-megapixel photos, all stabilized by its three-axis motorized gimbal. You'll also find a few of the subject-tracking shot options that are available on the more selfie-focused Hover line. The drone's front obstacle avoidance helps out here, too.
However, with a video transmission range of up to 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) and longer flight times, the V-Coptr Falcon is more about getting all those long-distance shots you couldn't get with other drones or making sure you get all the angles you want with a single flight. Also, unlike the company's Hover models, you'll get a full (but still compact) controller with a flip-up mount for your phone so you can use it to see what you're shooting and control the camera and other settings.
It doesn't look like the company is stopping with just the Falcon, though. Zero Zero also showed me a smaller tilt-rotor bicopter concept called Project D that weighs just 249 grams (0.55 pounds) also with a projected flight time of 50 minutes, which could potentially outperform market-leader DJI's Mavic Mini.
What do you think? Is this the drone you've been waiting for or is 50 minutes still not long enough?