Although its cameras have long been used in a number of other drones, GoPro is taking to the skies with a drone of its own, the Karma. This $800 quadcopter features a gimbal mount which can be removed and used separately, a small controller with a built-in touch display, and a backpack to store and carry the drone around securely.
The Karma drone's four arms are replaceable, and fold into the body to make the entire package easier to fit into a backpack.
Perhaps the most clever part of the Karma drone is that its gimbal mount—the part that keeps the camera stead. It can slide out of the drone and be used on its own as a hand-held device, so you can get smooth, jitter-free video even when you're not using the drone. However, the gimbal can only be rotated 90 degrees along the vertical axis, so if you want to pan around with the camera, you'll have to rotate the entire drone.
Also, the Karma doesn't come with a camera—it will work with the Hero 5 Black, Hero 5 Session and the Black and Silver editions of the Hero 4, but expect to spend at least another $200.
When opened, the Karma has a wingspan of 16.2 x 12 inches, and is 4.6 inches tall. It weights 35.5 ounces, and its 5,100 mAh battery will provide enough power for up to 20 minutes of flight. The drone has a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour, and a range of 3,280 feet. It has a max altitude of 14,500 feet, and can remain stable in winds up to 22 mph.
Other features include built-in No-Fly zones, so that the drone won't take off in restricted flight areas. Also, a GoPro Passenger App will let your friend view the feed from the camera, and control it while you fly the drone.
One of the Karma's closest competitors, price-wise, is the 3D Robotics Solo, which costs $600 with the gimbal bundle, comes with a backpack and a controller, and requires you to purchase a camera separately. However, 3DR's gimbal can rotate on all three axes, which makes it better suited for video. Still, it can't be removed and used separately, as GoPro's can.
The GoPro Karma will be available on October 23 for $799. We're interested to see how it performs, both on the ground and off.