Fotokite’s Quadconpter Is Not Legally A Drone, It’s A Tethered UAV

Jul 29, 2015

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Fotokite’s Quadconpter Is Not Legally A Drone, It’s A Tethered UAV

Jul 29, 2015

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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So, the FAA (US), the CAA (UK), Transport Canada (Canada, duh) and countless others are taking a stand against drones restricting usage and allowed flying zones and conditions. Especially for commercial use.

This is where Zurich-based company – Perspective Robotics hopes to gain footage in an ever-crowded niche. Their UAV solution is somewhat different from the DJI’s and 3DR’s out there in the sense that it does not use a radio to control the UAV. Rather it is using a tethered cable to deliver power and control to the airborne half of the unit.

Fotokite claims that at least one Airspace regulator –  DGAC, the French airspace authority – exempted them from the Drone classification.

This video gives a quick intro on the product

https://youtu.be/7-yER1RPwPA

Here is a quick show real for the product:

https://youtu.be/SUsn2d3094Y

Fotokite is not new to the aerial business and they have been making a pro version for a while now – the Fotokite Pro which they say is “Made for professional use cases and live broadcasting“. Now they plan to bring a consumer version to IndieGogo (which, like kickstarter, is losing its roots as a means to kickstart a company) in August.

This could be very interesting as a tethered approach solves many of the issues that ‘regular’ drones are facing, if you embrace the shorter range. The first one is probably battery time, since power is coming from the ground via the cable, the unit can literally stay in the air for hours. The cable downlink is a clever option for getting a high-quality feed in realtime. But maybe most important of all, just like a kite, the thing is tethered to a person and it is very easy to know who is piloting the unit.

Here are some parts of the press release by the Fotokite:

One of the most common requests we get is to release a consumer-friendly Fotokite – something affordable for folks who want to use one for photography, a hobby or just fun.

Early on, we made a conscious decision to build high-end tools before developing a consumer product. So while we’ve learned a lot by working with broadcasters and TV crews to make the Fotokite Pro, until now we haven’t had the time to properly develop a consumer version of the Fotokite.

Today, we’re excited to announce that in mid-August we will be unveiling just that – the Fotokite Phi, our first affordable, accessible tethered flying camera.

Based on the same GPS- and pilot-less technology used in the Fotokite Pro, the Phi (named after the golden ratio) enables users to quickly and painlessly fly a small camera such as a GoPro, take it anywhere and just have fun (without worrying about joysticks).

Weather this will remain a non-drone is up for when the FAA will take a swab at it.

[fotokite.com]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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8 responses to “Fotokite’s Quadconpter Is Not Legally A Drone, It’s A Tethered UAV”

  1. Samu Lehto Avatar
    Samu Lehto

    Any kind of wired or tethered technology seems sexy nowadays, “there has to be something special in this”

  2. Scott Tyack Avatar
    Scott Tyack

    Legal speak to the rescue. Craft like this (ie. Not quadcopters but they are) are going to cause all sorts of headaches. Does the definition of a quadcopter actually state it cannot be tethered?

    1. Alex King Avatar
      Alex King

      This was the FAA’s original statement on unmanned aircraft, A device used or intended to be used for flight in the air that has no onboard pilot. This device excludes missiles, weapons, or exploding warheads, but includes all classes of airplanes, helicopters, airships, and powered-lift aircraft without an onboard pilot. UA do not include traditional balloons (see 14 CFR Part 101), rockets, tethered aircraft and un-powered gliders

      I have seen some chatter that when they said this, they didn’t have tethered quads in mind and that they too are “illegal”. Unfortunately the FAA has been flying by the seat of it’s proverbial pants these days when it comes to his, and it is going to be very messy.

  3. Fotokite (Official) Avatar
    Fotokite (Official)

    great article! If you want have exclusive information about the @Fotokite_ Phi please write to mathieunc@fotokite.com

  4. Rick Avatar
    Rick

    Still doesn’t resolve the issue with the national parks in the US. Manned flight below a certain altitude is not legal either.

    1. Michael Andrew Broughton Avatar
      Michael Andrew Broughton

      *sigh* google what the u in uav stands for genius.

  5. Rupert Chappelle Avatar
    Rupert Chappelle

    Whether, not weather..

    1. Threeskinner Avatar
      Threeskinner

      Ice potted tha two