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The $240 4k AI Folding Drone

Not too long ago, the Mark Drone landed upon the fertile grounds of Kickstarter’s tech section, and it’s been kicking up quite a bit of dust since then.

Over $200,000 worth of dust. And with a closer look at the details, it’s not hard to see why.

This little flier has a lot going for it already. First, it’s a drone that hits that solid $200~$300 price range, so it’s both appealing to people who were already in the market for a drone and also to those who were on the fringe but put off by the big investment. These are the people who might have casual interests in drone photography or just flying it around for fun, and are looking for some way to get into the drone “scene” that they keep hearing about without having to put down so much of a down payment that they’ll end up seriously regretting the decision to purchase one if they use it less than they thought they would.

Second, it has a focus on being consumer-friendly, doing away with many of the issues that more complex and pricey drones suffer from. For example, this drone does not use GPS signals, which can cause issues when flying indoors or among tall buildings, and are overall known to be inconsistent. Instead, it uses Visual Inertial Odometry which allows it to understand its surroundings in real-time rather than relying on a satellite for feedback. This makes flying indoors safer and more reliable, and also allows the drone to fly autonomously. It also requires zero calibration, is small, makes little noise, has been designed for simplistic repair and maintenance, and can fold up for storage.

Third, it’s got that whoa-future-tech vibe that many drones were practically designed to appeal to. There are a few things that contribute to this: First, the drone’s AI functions allow for autonomous flight, as mentioned earlier. Adding this onto the drone’s voice recognition and 4K camera device allow it to launch and land on vocal command, automatically track moving targets through crowds on video, and even recognize specific hand gestures from afar so you can snap photos without using the controller. There’s also a few pre-programmed flight patterns to allow users to easily get a feel for drone photography, such as the Helix Flight, where the drone flies upward while circling around a subject, or the Profile Recording, where the camera flies horizontally to a moving target, recording them in profile as they move.

The Mark Drone comes in three colors: The classic ‘superspy’ Matte black, a bright red with some diagonal strips on the wings, and an all-white variant as well. And similar to a number of smaller drones, the “controller” is designed with portability in mind, using a pair of attachments that go on either side of a user’s smartphone.

But with such a complete portfolio of features, there was one place the Mark Drone had to compromise: The device can only stay in flight for 20 minutes before running out of battery. In addition, we expect that for such a small device in such a tiny, light frame, the drone must be quite fragile, so using its integrated smart camera tracking system comes with some risks. Still, many Kickstarter packages offered by the page come with a free set of propeller guards for added protections, so it seems that the creators of this product are taking its weaknesses into account.

One last bonus: Unlike many “far future” Kickstarter projects, this one is expected to hit consumer shelves sometime in August. The $238 early bird special is only for the Kickstarter, so act fast if you’re interested.

Featured Image Via the Mark Drone Kickstarter Page

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