What happens when you cross a camera drone with a kite?

The Fotokite Phi tethered drone is a budget-level flying quadcopter that’s as simple as taking a dog for a walk

Drones. They’re the most hyped gadgets in the world.

Do you really want to fork out several hundred pounds for a glorified model aeroplane that’s as easy to manoevre as a unicycle on a flight of stairs? Yes, you can understand the appeal of military drones and, at a push,Amazon delivery drones, but do you really need one in your life, taking photos of your garden from 100 feet up? Chances are you’d only lose it within minutes or crash it into a neighbourhood tree.

The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that the domestic drone market should be worth around £86m this year – up 50 per cent on 2014 – but you’re not convinced.

Well, prepare to put your cynicism to one side. Fotokite Phi is a new breed of domestic camera drone which manages to be affordable, extremely portable and almost impossible to lose.

The gadget, launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo this week, is the brainchild of robotics researcher Sergei Lupashin, who has described it, self-deprecatingly perhaps, as a “flying selfie-stick“. It’s USP is its smart 8m tether which is used to guide the drone into a desired position with a flick of the wrist while holding down a button at the end of the leash. Sensors measure the angle of the leash relative to the user, so that when you move, the drone moves too.

According to BBC technology writer Andy Armstrong, “Anyone who’s walked a dog without losing it can operate a Fotokite“. At 300g (GoPro camera not included) it’s one of the lighter drones on the market, and even folds up into a small carry tube.

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Aimed at “the hobby photographer, the action sports enthusiast, the guerrilla journalist and the gadget aficionado”, the Fotokite, “a cross between an airborne pet and a steadicam in the sky”, has attracted a third of its $300,000 funding target in under 24 hours.

Priced at £160, the first Fotokites will be shipped next March.

Fotokite Phi drone

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