Fotokite Phi: The pet drone you can keep on a leash

Drones can be notoriously difficult to fly, meaning you risk losing your expensive new toy in a tree or over the horizon when it disobeys your commands to return.

Owners of the new Fotokite Phi drone won’t have to worry about this though, as the mini quadcopter always stays attached to its pilot via a retractable leash.

A pro version of the drone was originally built for journalists and broadcasters as an aerial camera that can be used safely around large crowds, but the scaled-down Phi is mainly aimed at hobbyist photographers looking for an easy-to-use drone that can get a better view of the action.

The compact device weighs just 350 grams with a camera attached, and comes packed away in a tube that’s about the size of a 2 litre soda bottle. When you take it out of the container, the four arms instantly unfold so it is instantly ready for action, and it really is incredibly easy to get in the air.

Fotokite Phi
The Fotokite Phi can be easily folded and packed away in its container.

Its retractable leash is attached to a cylindrical controller that slots easily over your hand and to launch it, you simply have to point the drone where you want it to go and then give it a twist. As soon as its propellors spring into action, the GoPro camera attached to the main body will instantly begin filming.

To change the drone’s position in the air, you simply drag it around and it will follow you, and to raise it higher you just give the lease more slack. To control the direction of the camera, you need to hold down a button on the controller and then rotate your wrist. It will always know where it is in relation to you thanks to the tension it creates on the leash, so there is no GPS or remote piloting system required. The battery also lasts for 15 minutes at a time and is easily interchangeable, or you can charge it up via USB cable.

Fotokite Phi
Fotokite Phi can be controlled with simple hand gestures using the controller

The leash can extend up to 8 metres (26 feet), and if the drone becomes detached for any reason, it will automatically float back down to the ground. For added safety, the propellers are also made of a soft plastic, so won’t cause any damage if the drone comes into contact with a person.

The Fotokite Phi drone is now available to pre-order on Indiegogo for £159/$249. To see it in action, check out the video below…

Discover more amazing technology in How It Works magazine! It’s available from all good retailers, or you can order it online from the ImagineShop. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, make sure you subscribe today!

You can also take a look at:

The book of drones 

The Pars lifeguard that drone can save lives