The GoPro Karma had a ton of buzz around it when it was originally demoed and launched in October 2016. The GoPro Karma looked set to go head on with DJI Mavic Pro with its similar folding design. You can see a simple spec comparison between the two drones here. Sadly shortly after the Karma was released some of the drones started mysteriously falling out of the sky. After a recall it became apparent that it was due to a faulty battery catch. To GoPro’s credit they did an exceptional job recalling the units, offering compensation in the shape of GoPro Hero5 Black cameras and getting the units back in the hands of users.
The recall did cost GoPro a few months of product development time and that may have a knock on effect to the original drones successor. The GoPro Karma drone has quite clearly been broken down in to 5 components, the Karma drone unit, GoPro camera, Karma Grip, Karma Battery and Karma Controller. All of which can be bought separately, allowing you to buy and add parts later down the line.
This allows GoPro to release new parts of the drone without having to release completely a new flying package. New higher resolution cameras will continue to be released and mounts will be created to make them fit the Karma Grip. The Karma Grip itself can be updated to use less power and be more robust and rugged. The Karma battery will be refactored and optimised to offer better flight times. The Karma Controller can be updated to offer a higher resolution screen with better latency, smaller form factor and longer flying distances. The Karma Core Drone itself realistically needs some vision sensors for obstacle avoidance and some extra features like object tracking. The area that GoPro’s Karma really trails behind in is the software.
The GoPro Karma really lacks some of the intelligent flight features that similar drones in the same price bracket can offer. Some of this is due to the lack of hardware in the drone and some due to the camera not actually being integrated in to the drone itself. If the second iteration of the Karma Core Drone unit does have some vision sensors then it opens up a ton of possibilities for new flight features.
GoPro’s fanbase heavily revolves around people who like sports and outdoor activities but aren’t necessarily interested in flying drones. What they really needed to do was to build a drone that had auto follow and tracking features. Additional features of the Mavic Pro initially won people over and then the recall was the decider. Then a few months down the line DJI add insult to injury with the Spark drone. Sure the camera isn’t as good as the Hero 4 or 5, but the flight features blow the GoPro Karma out of the water and for 200 pounds cheaper than the Karma without a camera you can have the Spark drone with the camera.
In short, for the GoPro Karma to stay competitive in the new iteration, it needs to have some better hardware spread across the controller and drone. This needs to come in the form of on-board sensors, better flight distances and improved video streaming. Then in turn the software needs to be updated to offer some more intelligent flight modes, obstacle avoidance and some form of object tracking. Right now GoPro are just keeping their head above water in the drone market, we need to see some killer new features to give it an edge.
There is currently no word on the second iteration of the GoPro Karma 2, but we expect an announcement in October with some leaks and news shortly before. Save your time searching for Karma news and sign up below, we will keep you updated with the latest news as it happens.
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