GoPro’s chief executive Nick Woodman has confirmed it will make its own quadcopter drones, describing the remote controlled aircraft as the “ultimate” accessory for his firm’s action cameras. The quadcopter will be available to buy in the first half of 2016.
He made the announcement at the Code Conference in California last week, where he also unveiled new kit which will help capture video footage for virtual reality helmets.
“Quadcopters have a special place for us at GoPro because I was a huge radio-controlled plane enthusiast as a kid and I could never really get anyone involved in it with me because it was either too geeky or it took a lot of time to learn how to fly these things – you’d crash them all the time,” said Woodman.
“So, I was really surprised to see how quickly the general consumer was adopting quadcopters.”
One industry watcher said GoPro’s move into drones was “very significant”.
“It’s the fact that the company has such a strong brand,” John Stapley from Amateur Photographer magazine told the BBC.
“It’s similar to what you can already see with action cameras. There are a lot of others out there but most people don’t know they exist or don’t have any interest in them because GoPro has become such a dominant name that it is ‘the action brand’ as far as they are concerned.”
The risk for the firm, he added, was that other drone manufacturers would opt to partner with other camera makers to avoid supporting a competitor.
The world’s bestselling commercial drone maker – China’s DJI – has already decided to limit initial sales of its Phantom 3 flagship to a design that features its own proprietary video camera. GoPro will rival products from drone companies like DJI and 3D Robotics, which build quadcopters that feature built-in mounts for action cameras.
Meanwhile security firm Pen Test Partners has warned it is “too easy” for criminals to take control of GoPro cameras which could then be used to spy on their owners. The company showed the BBC how it could gain access to a Hero4 camera that appeared to be turned off, to secretly watch or eavesdrop on users, or to view, even delete existing videos.