It’s a new era for UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), also known as drones. Current advances in camera, sensing, aeronautics, battery and autopilot navigation technologies have helped make UAVs affordable, easy to operate, and reliable.

Drones are rising in use on construction spots around the globe, according to aviation experts. Innovation and mobile devices have made drones much easier to manage. Also, drones are a cost-effective way to check a project’s progress or help jobsite managers see higher elevations or hard-to-reach spots for inspections. And construction industry insiders are finding drones and UAVs can play a vital role in their work. From surveying and showing clients and potential clients an aerial overview of completed projects to monitoring jobsites to ensure safe practices or to inspect bridges and other structures, drones have the potential to become an important a tool for construction companies and their clients.

To this point, industry innovation contains to escalate. 3D Robotics, www.3drobotics.com, Berkeley, Calif., recently announced the launch of the X8+, a tough, ready-to-fly personal drone that extends the capability of 3DR’s fully-automated flight platform into the professional realm. Additionally, 3DR also introduced the company’s new plug-and-play FDV (first-person view) kit, providing everything a user needs to start live-streaming a video feed from the camera on the X8+ or IRIS+ drones.

In this price range, personal drones typically focus on carrying a lightweight action camera through the air. The X8+ can do that—and can also carry larger pro-line cameras—and much more. This intelligent solution can be used for a range of tasks—to generate highly precise maps and 3D models; collect aerial data in automated and infinitely repeatable flight paths; carry sensors for gathering data beyond the visible spectrum; generate point clouds for accurate ground survey; and even be outfitted with magnets for real delivery potential.

The X8+ aluminum frame is highly durable. It can handle the elements, but it’s also light enough to maximize aerial mobility; it folds into a compact and easily transportable form perfect for on-site use in areas like mining, construction, search & rescue, agriculture and professional cinematography. Like all 3DR drones, the X8+ comes with free mission planning software, 3DR’s world-leading open source flight platform and a remote controller. And there’s more. The X8+ also features 3DR’s world-first 3PV™ Follow Me mode, meaning the copter can track any GPS-enabled Android device with a variety of changeable angle and distance presets that will keep consumers in the center of creative videos. Or, if used industrially, that will keep the object a user needs to track in the center of the copter’s field of vision.

With lifting power that includes max takeoff weight of over 2 kg, recommended payload 800g battery and 800g payload, the X8+ offers users options for attaching an array of gimbals, cameras and sensors. So the X8+ can carry gimbals that support a professional quality mirrorless video camera, such as the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera, or a pro point-and-shoot like the Panasonic LX100 or Canon S110. This carrying capacity provides the user options: you can choose different lenses for video with the Black Magic, and the different focal length settings for the LX100 allow aerial photographers to set a zoom for tight and focused shots while flying at a distance; when flying with a tiny wide-angle lens users would have to get the copter physically closer to a subject. Combine the X8+ with 3DR’s FPV kit and consumers now have everything needed to scout, monitor and shoot professional-grade aerials.

The X8+ provides automated mission planning and open source software platforms compatible with Mac, Windows, Android, and Linux systems. With free DroidPlanner 2 software, X8+ users can plan flights by simply drawing a flight path on any Android tablet or phone, which enables hands-free flight control. The X8+ drone benefits include autonomous journeys and automatically stabilized photo, video and data capture.

Features of the 3DR X8+ include lifting power to carry an array of customizable professional payloads; redundant propeller system for reliability and flight protection; max takeoff weight of more than 2 kg, with flight times up to 15 minutes depending on payload; robust design for on-site and repeatable real-world use; intelligent tool enabling mapping, survey, 3D modeling, delivery of small goods; and fully-automated flight control.

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