A Chinese Mystery Company Took Regular Quadcopters and Made Them Comically Large
But ... why?
Look at these drones. These are the horrifying tarantulas of drones. To estimate, they are at least five times as large as the DJI Phantom, the quadcopter the average consumer is most familiar with.
At the moment, the Federal Aviation Administration is having a hell of a time trying to keep track of Phantoms and other quadcopters. If these things, being marketed by a company called Harwar out of Shenzhen, China, ever make it stateside in any kind of numbers, well, the FAA is probably going to lose it.
The company has five different models of quadcopter on display at CES, and each of them is an absolute monster. It's worth noting here that Harwar does not appear to have an English-language website (the one the company gave me doesn't go anywhere), and I have no idea how these things perform. The company does, as far as I know, exist, because I saw the drones today and they were very real, even if this image from its promo materials is very not:
According to the company's pamphlet, it's got more than 100 engineers "from around the globe" working on its designs.
The drones have batteries the size of ones you'd see in a car, they carry full DSLRs or other hi-def video equipment, and, well, they're just simply massive. According to Vera, a representative for the company that I spoke to, they're going to retail for between $5,000 and $15,000.
At that price point, they make more sense for police departments, oil companies, and even the government, and that's apparently the plan.
"We can use them for Hollywood studios, to inspect pipelines, for border patrol," Vera said.
Details on the drones are scarce at the moment—he wouldn't say how long they could fly for or give me any technical specs. He said the company was most interested in finding a US distributor for the drones before going into specifics.
That said, smaller drones can, and do, fulfill all of those functions without measuring up equally to a medium-sized human being. Bigger is rarely better when it comes to drones, and nothing I saw really suggests that Harwar didn't just decide to take the standard quadcopter design and make it many times larger than what we already see.
With the FAA horrified that a plane could crash into a drone, I wouldn't expect to see these stateside anytime soon. Because, while a plane probably stands a fighting chance in an impact with a Phantom, if I had to hazard a guess, I'd bet the same wouldn't be the case with one of these.