the line between radio controlled aircraft and UAV (or drone) is being further blurred by new entrants such as the 3DR Iris Quadcopter UAV. actually, we are not sure if we should refer the Iris as a UAV or a radio control quadcopter, but one thing we are sure is that these things are a lot easier fly than it was a decade ago. thanks to technological advancement, miniature flying machines like this Iris can be flown without much experience. the drone can be controlled by an Android tablet or phone (iOS coming soon) or with a nine-channel radio control transmitter (see what i mean by “blurring the line”?) and features a single touch takeoff and landing when controlled though the mobile app. planning of “mission” is as easy: all it takes is tapping on the map and drawing out the path that you want the Iris to take.
for a moment, the Iris Quadcopter UAV may sounds like a toy, but we can assure you that this $729.99 flying rig is more than that. it could be potential surveillance tool for neighborhood watch and the likes, thanks to the provision of a GoPro compatible mount for the affixing of an optional GoPro Hero3 action camera. however, the latter is not included in the cost – if you want that to be in the package, expect to shell out an additional $399.99 for one. build-wise, the Iris arms and legs are made from durable Zytel Nylon and are easily replaceable without breaking the bank. onboard is an ARM Cortex-M4 processor with a 32-bit autopilot system built into it, running alongside with a series of sensors. there’s also a data radio onboard for real-time mission monitoring, data-logging, and control.
other capabilities include pre-programmed GPS waypoints for repeatable flight plans, Return-To-Launchpoint at press of a button (or under programmable failsafe conditions), Follow Me function that enables the aircraft to tag along a GPS-equipped ground station at a settable distance, and Geo Fencing to keep the drone within user-defined space. the 3DR Iris Quadcopter UAV is configurable during purchase and is expected to start shipping this September.