Smartphones and drones: Nokia Lumia 1020 to get airborne

Aviation company creates the world's first high-res smartphone camera drone

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The Nokia Lumia 1020 was only officially introduced a few days ago, but a French UAS (unmanned aerial systems) company called Lehmann Aviation is already talking about using its 41-megapixel camera on one of its photography drones.

The LA300 drone is a fully automnomous one, according to the manufacturer, and is designed to be flown by anyone, including users without any piloting experience. The company claims that it's the first drone in the world to use a high-resolution smartphone camera, mainly because the Nokia has the highest resolution of all current smartphones.

Physically, the drone is a fixed wing platform made of foam and carbon fibre bits, with a 92cm wingspan and a propulsion device that requires hand launching. The payload — the Nokia Lumia 1020 — is designed to sit in the central piece and, with the phone, the whole drone weighs just 950g.

It's a product that's aimed at professional users who need aerial photography for construction, real estate or mapping purposes (see the company's site for info and links to photos). It has a flying range of 15km, can operate at an altitude of 80-100m, going at a speed up to 80km/h, and it can last up to 30min before having to land.

But the most interesting part about this drone is that can be controlled by a Windows 8 tablet app. An application called OperationCentre is said to allow the user to draw the desired flightpath on the screen, and send it to the drone over Wi-Fi. Once the drone is launched, it will follow the path automatically and then land in a chosen place. Anyway, that's how easy the press release makes it sound.

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This is one of the coolest uses of Windows Phone and Windows 8 that we're aware of to date, and the most expensive. If you have a need for this sort of product, be prepared to part with plenty of cash; the LA300 drone costs 4,990 euro (which is about AUD$7153) and you have to supply the phone yourself. There is also a version for a GoPro camera.

Here's a nice little video of one of the company's other drones capturing Versailles.

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Elias Plastiras

Elias Plastiras

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