Well that's a mouthful. Shenzhen-based DJI Innovations was on hand at NAB today to demonstrate its new hex-rotor aircraft, designed to provide photographers (and videographers) with a low-cost tool for capturing aerial images. The vehicle we saw today, coined Spreading Wings S800 (its rotors retract for storage) is a fairly straightforward multi-rotor aircraft, save for a couple pretty slick enhancements. Even more impressive, however, was DJI's Ruling, a "ground control terminal" that enables you to adjust not only aircraft direction and elevation, but also the camera position, complete with a live video feed as captured by a Sony NEX-5N mounted on a multi-axis camera gimbal. The camera mount is designed to maintain a stable image regardless of the craft's position -- once it's fixed on a subject, it will adjust to retain the pre-selected angle.
The Ruling controller is very much still a prototype, with a yet-unpolished military green plastic housing and a built-in LCD. There's also dual joysticks -- one on the left to adjust the camera platform, and a second on the right to control the aircraft itself, letting you climb, descend and turn in every which way with a flick. The duo was very responsive during a brief demonstration, making calculated movements with what looked to be precise accuracy. The video feed was interrupted slightly by the multitude of wireless connections littering the Las Vegas Convention Center airwaves, but reps were still able to verify framing and adjust position -- the aircraft itself never faltered, with a maximum range of 10 kilometers (5km for the video feed, in ideal conditions). The Spreading Wings S800 is available for pre-order now and is expected to ship next month for roughly $8,500. That clever live video controller will cost you another pretty penny, however, with an estimated $5,000 price tag and a TBD ship date. You'll want to take a closer look in the video after the break.
DJI multi-rotor aircraft with Ruling live video feed controller hands-on