Is collective pitch the future of drone photography?
When I was on my way to Dallas a few years ago to fly for the Discovery channel, my friend and co-pilot was telling me some hush hush rumors about the future of aerial photography platforms from DJI. The big secret was collective pitch and the rock solid flight characteristics that could be had from such a design. I was a bit surprised to see someone beat DJI to this but they seem to have their hands full with the delayed launch of the Inspire 1.
Fixed Pitch vs Collective Pitch
If you are new to RC helicopters, let me take you back to the days of fixed pitched and collective pitch helicopters. Fixed pitch helicopters were difficult to fly because of tail drift and the massive delay between throttle changes and altitude changes in the helicopter. Collective pitch helicopters spun the main blade much (dangerously) faster and then you just changed the pitch of the helicopter to move the heli up and down. The lag was virtually eliminated and insane maneuvers were possible. However, with one main blade spinning at 2000 RPM it was never a good idea to use these for aerial photography unless you were in a controlled environment or there were no people around. The beauty of multicopters was they were fixed pitch and they had many propellers spinning much slower and the energy was spread out to four propellers and therefore much safer.
Assault Reaper 500
Jump ahead to the Assault Reaper 500 collective pitch quadcopter from HobbyKing.com. This thing is built to be 3d quadcopter and probably is a blast to fly. However, my mind instantly jumps to aerial photography applications because that is what I love to do. The implications for such a rig are obvious. More speed, faster response, and greater stability in wind. If you are shooting fast moving dynamic subjects, nothing will be able to beat this. I have not flown this yet, but if you can get flight software that is suited for aerial photography instead of 3d, this will be the rig to use if you are filming fast motorcycles, cars, waves, boats, and other fast moving stuff.
Collective pitch Drone Photography
In order for this to be an aerial photography platform, it would need to be modified a bit. It would need a camera mount and a gimbal, and FPV transmitter, and a flight mode that was designed for aerial photography. The main drawback to flying a normal collective pitch helicopter is the fast spinning blade. The blade on this will be spinning much faster than the blades of a normal quadcopter but because the power is spread out among 4 different propellers the danger will (hopefully) be significantly less. We will not know how dangerous these are until people are using them but my guess is they are safer than a T-rex and more dangerous than a DJI Phantom or QAV500. Will collective pitch be the future of consumer drones - Please comment below!!