SwellPro Spry Aeroamphibious Drone Preview
The Spry has to be the brainchild of someone who went to the beach with their shiny new drone, crashed it into the ocean, and then thought, hey, wait a minute… That's because the Spry can fly, float, and submerge, all while recording 4K stabilized video.
I’m not big on product-based Kickstarters, but this one is already well funded, and by a company that already has a track record making drones similar to this one.
Seaplane, see drone
The Spry looks like any other drone, if a bit meatier in construction. And orange. You don’t see too many drones that are this close to safety orange. The landing feet below the motors are rubber shocks to cushion against the type of landing’s I’d almost certainly force upon this poor device.
Four brushless 2206 1420kV motors and a 3,600 mAh battery propel the Spry to a claimed 43mph and up to 2,600 feet for around 16 minutes per battery charge. That’s with the standard propellers. They claim 3-bladed “high angle” propellers will let it go even faster.
In addition to floating, it’s submersible. An IP67 rating means it can go down to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. It’s not a “submarine” drone, and I don’t think it’d be fair to judge it as such. Not least because when I’ve checked out underwater drones before, they’re not quite as much fun as they seem. Mostly because it’s pretty much impossible to have wireless control underwater, especially if you want to stay dry.
The camera has some decent hardware too, sporting a Sony 1/2.3” sensor, which is used in cameras like the Sony Z1, Nikon 1 series, and a few others. It records 4K video at 30fps, along with 12 megapixel photos. The latter isn’t a ton, but should be fine for social media. For slow-mo, you can get 1080p up to 120fps, and 720p at 240.
SwellPro also claims a combination vertical axis mechanical and electronic image stabilization. The camera is in a glass dome that is, of course, waterproof. A maximum SD card size of 64GB should be plenty for several flights worth of footage, but during a battery swap you cold always put in spare card.
Perhaps just as important is the tracking abilities. SwellPro claims the Spry will follow you at a set distance and height. You can also set it to orbit you at a pre-determined distance, or follow a set path. It does this with built-in GPS.
Controlling all this is key, and the Spry’s controller impressed me far more than other drones I’ve seen. It’s IP66 rated water resistant, so not fully submersible but you can get it wet. Important since the whole point of this thing is being able to get it wet. There’s a 4.3-inch LCD and big antennas that SwellPro claim will keep contact with the Spry out to 1 kilometer (0.62 miles). However, to access features like the GPS-enabled path tracking and different photo/video settings, you have to connect to an app on your phone. You can tell it to start/stop recording, tilt the camera, and so on from the remote control however.
There’s even a GearVR/Oculus headset available for, as the company describes “an immersive flight experience).
SwellPro is expecting to ship the Spry in November/December. From this recent Kickstarter update, production is in full swing.
You can pre-order the Spry from their website. The price is $769 as I write this, but in several places they say it will likely go up. The full “MSRP” listed is $989. As someone who would crash this thing into the side of a truck within 5 minutes of unboxing, that’s a bit too rich for my blood. But for an aeroamphibious drone, in the hands of someone who can pilot it, it sure looks cool.