Xiaomi, the hugely popular smartphone manufacturer from China, has launched what you might think is a rather strange product: a drone.

That being said, Xiaomi (also know as Mi) makes a host of products from rice cookers, to air purifiers alongside some really nice and extremely affordable smartphones.

The Mi Drone is rather exciting, because it boasts a camera that is able to record 4K video. According to a blog post by Mi, pricing for the drone will start at ¥2 999 (R7 100) but for the spendthrifts there will also be a version which records video at 1080p for ¥2 499 (R5 900). With the huge fluctuations in the dollar/Rand exchange though, the pricing might be different in South Africa.

Technically speaking the drone is a quad-copter, which is reportedly customisable. The rotors, 5 100mAh battery (flight time of around 27 minutes) and camera can all be swapped out for other parts, though we’ve asked Xiaomi to specify if the device is completely open-source.

The Mi Drone use GPS and GLONASS for positioning via a satellite and when it can’t reach communication with the satellite it uses a visual positioning system.

Users will also be able to use autonomous flight modes such as takeoff, landing, returning to a predesignated “home” location and orbit. Mi has also said that the drone won’t enter no-fly zones.

“There are restricted areas in every country. What if a Mi Drone flies across the restricted area? Nope, Mi Drone will hover automatically at the edge of no-fly zones,” the firm said in a blog post.

According to Gizmag, your smartphone will attach to the controller and serve as a viewfinder. This also means that you can stream live video from the drone at 720p.

Now for the bad news. The 1080p drone is being launched as part of a crowdfunding campaign on the Mi Home app today and the 4K version will only be available for testing as part of “an open beta programme at the end of July”.

So we might not see the drone landing in SA anytime soon but we have reached out to Xiaomi’s local representatives to confirm whether South Africans will eventually be able to buy one.

Now, if we could just afford a license for one these drones that would make us immeasurably happy.

[Source – Mi][Image – Mi]


Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.