Drones at Best Buy? Get ready for some buzzed flying.

That low gravelly hum you hear is the sound of drones coming soon to a Best Buy near you.

As unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, continue their long and steady slog to infiltrate themselves into our lives – from Amazon testing out its new drone-delivery system to the FAA clarifying and loosening its UAV regulations to every hipster in town playing with his new toy just a few feet above your head – Bloomberg reports that Berkeley-based 3D Robotics in May will unleash its latest flying wonder to Saturday morning consumers at Best Buy.

The Solo, with Linux computers in the controller and new features in the craft itself, goes on sale in late May at Best Buy Co. stores, Chris Anderson, chief executive officer of the Berkeley, California-based company, said in a telephone interview Monday.

Linux features in the controller make flying the device simpler, Anderson said. Solo also has a new autopilot that helps keep it stable in the air, and can carry GoPro high-definition cameras aloft. The product will be popular with hobbyists and have some commercial applications, such as in agriculture and construction, he said.

Anderson tells Bloomberg that the Solo, which will be built overseas, should become a popular addition to the shelves of the electronics retail chain.

“Manufacturing in China gives us the ability to scale up to meet the needs of the consumer market,” Anderson said.
3D Robotics already sells drones to consumers online. The Iris+ is available at Amazon.com for $750. The Solo will be made in China.

3D’s got a colorful pedigree: It was founded seven years ago by Anderson, the one-time editor of Wired magazine, and Jordi Muñoz, an early drone builder who cobbled together early prototypes in his Tijuana garage using video-game innards. Since then, they’ve gone global:

The venture capital-backed company engineers drones in San Diego, manufactures them in Tijuana, Mexico, and markets them from an office in Austin, Texas.

“We’re going to continue to build our niche products in Tijuana, which offers advantages such as being in the same time zone,” Anderson said.

A Best Buy spokesman told Bloomberg that it would offer the Solo in more than 400 stores starting May 31.

And judging by 3D’s own website promotion, the manufacturer has high hopes for its latest high-flier:

Solo’s video game-style controller will feel familiar the second you pick it up, even if you’ve never flown a drone. Pushbutton commands put both camera and copter at your fingertips. Take off, land or instantly pause your flight midair with a single touch. Click to start and stop recording or snap a photo, even adjust camera angle while you fly.

By working directly with GoPro, we’ve made Solo the first drone to offer complete control of your HERO3+® or HERO4® camera during flight. The new 3-axis gimbal delivers fluid HD video to your mobile device, offers in-flight recording control and access to GoPro settings—and oh yeah, it powers your GoPro, too.

So head to Best Buy, strap on your GoPro, and go to town. Or, rather, high above town.

Credit: 3D Robotics


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