What do you get if you combine a Android running on quad core, 2.0 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, with a 5,000 mAh battery, 720p camera, objecting tracking and then bolt it onto (into) a quadrcopter-style drone? Yes, that's right; a drone that's able to follow a given subject using its own autopilot, recognize body gestures and with a single camera mount, record whatever you want it to. Sounds like something from Mission Impossible? Not quite; it sounds like the world's first Android-based drone, the Mind4, which is available for investors on the Kickstarter website.
The Mind4 uses specialist image recognition software running over Android to control the drone's autopilot system, which allows it to follow any subject using the built-in 720p camera. By leaving the flight and orientation of the drone up to George (the autopilot), you're free to do whatever it is you want recording. The idea is that you simply tell the Mind4 what you want to follow and leave it to it: no more bringing a buddy who has spent enough time learning to fly without crashing the drone. The image tracking mode is controlled via an app on your Android or iOS device by panning and pinching on the Android screen to adjust the Mind4's position until you find the object you wish to follow. Tap "Autolock" and that's it. It's also possible to manually frame the subject by dragging a box around it, which the developers say is great for wildlife. Once you tap start, the Mind4 will follow the subject whilst keeping itself in a position to record accordingly.
The auto-follow mode (I can see why it's not called Stalk Mode) can be combined with body gestures. Waving your right hand will tell the drone to come closer, raising both hands tells it to take a picture and pointing to the ground tells the unit to land. These are the basic gestures that the software has as standard but you're free to create your own. As for the built-in 720p camera, this acts as the unit's "eye," for shots on the move you're going to need your own camera (GoPro is specifically mentioned on the site) and this is mounted on the single gimbal system on the drone. You can switch between the cameras for the first person video feed if you need to.
And did I mention that the Mind4 is based around Android? This means that it's a part of a much bigger open platform and this means that the software is easily changed to suit your preferences. The generic auto-follow application works under most circumstances but the developers have six customized applications designed for skiing, surfing, cycling, hiking, skating and for tracking pets. The Mind4 comes with a backup flight control system should Android fail mid-flight, is capable of a maximum speed of 40 mph and has a range of 1.2 miles. It's flight time is rated at 20 minutes and the drone comes with WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, a G-sensor, gyroscope, compass and barometer.
And this is where Mind4 need help: the project has been ongoing for a couple of years and the team have achieved great things, but now they need volume in order to bring the component prices down. If you' like what you've read, hit up the source website. The first hundred backers can get a Mind4 drone plus gimbal for just $899, rising to $999 for the next two hundred backers, compared with the normal price of $1,149. The units are expected to ship in September 2015.