Since early 2015 Queen B Robotics has been developing advanced technology to improve the flight capabilities of drones. The company’s Exo360 is a drone designed to take 360-degree virtual reality footage with its five cameras. The video can then be used with a VR headset for people to explore an environment without ever being there.
We caught up with Queen B Robotics’ CEO and Founder Chris Blower to talk about how Exo360 is unique and what it means for the future of drones.
How did you come up with the idea of Exo360?
During our R&D, extensive flight time was accrued recording new footage of different locations, while testing the vehicles response and reliability. Once I had flown the drone and landed, it came to my attention, that when I arrived home and reviewed the footage that sometime, the image composition wasn’t as good as I thought it was while we were in the field.
Either the point of interest was off-center, it was accidentally cropped by the edge of the image, or I had some sun glare that blew-out the colors in the image. All things that I wish I had the ability to re-orientate the image by a few degrees to get the perfect shot.
This is where 360 image capture and VR technology came into play. By recording everything, in all directions, simultaneously, we have the ability to correct and modify images to get the best composition.
Also, from people viewing the the footage of beautiful areas, being asked what was just out of sight and what the rest of the shoot location looked like. The best solution was to offer an immersive experience where people could look around and see everything that was happening around them. This enables the viewer to create their own experience from your adventure.
What stage are you at with its production?
The Exo360 concept and prototype were completed in March, 2016. Th Exo360 is currently on pre-sale on our website and Indiegogo. Several components are currently being refined to improve efficiency and reliability. The Exo360 is intended to ship in December 2016.
How is Exo360 different to other photography drones?
The Exo360 has the ability to capture 360 video in 4k resolution. Through the employment of the five onboard cameras, we have the ability to see in all directions simultaneously.
With an integrated global shutter all images are synchronised to enable both 360 images and videos to be captured. The Exo360 is the first drone on the market that offers integrated VR technology for the consumer and prosumer market.
Where do you think personal robots and drones are heading?
I think that we have just started to scratch the surface on the capabilities of drones and personal robots.
With the drone market continuously growing and an increasing number of companies employing drones for a variety of applications, drones are going to become a common tool for image capture, mapping and package transport.
For personal robots, the ever improving voice recognition of Google, Siri and Alexa is making our interactions with the digital world more efficient. In addition to the AI and machine learning algorithms being developed these systems can predict information we need before we even ask for it.
Which countries and companies are pushing the idea of advanced robotics forward? Who is your inspiration?
In recent years we have seen some amazing robot technology come from the US, China, South Korea and Japan. There have been many inspirational companies rise from each of these countries to advance personal robots and drones.
For the drone industry, DJI has been the driver for many new products in the industry, along side the global acceptance of drones into people’s lives.
However, for my inspiration I would say that Boston Dynamics has been at the forefront. They have always pushed the limits on what is possible and have developed some truly revolutionary systems and robots.