BEIJING – A Chinese startup called Ryze Tech is selling an affordable drone with technology from Intel and DJI. The $99 Tello is a tiny machine with a camera that can capture 360-degree video and stream live footage to a tablet, or to an unspecified selection of third-party VR headsets. It’s aimed at a young audience, and Ryze promises features that will make it safe and easy to use, including automatic takeoff and landing.
It says these features are possible because of an Intel vision processing chip and flight stabilization from DJI — a company known for larger and more expensive drones.
The Tello uses an Intel Movidius Myriad 2 VPU, which handles object recognition in DJI drones, letting them do things like respond to hand gestures. In the Tello, it’s supposed to help the drone hover in one place more consistently, or land in an outstretched palm. It’s supposed to help take some of the pressure off kids who are just learning to fly a drone, letting them focus on capturing video or programming flight patterns using the simple coding tool Scratch.
At 80 grams, the Tello is definitely on the small side; DJI’s small-and-light Spark drone weighs closer to 300 grams. It flies for 13 minutes at a time, compared to the Spark’s 16 minutes, and takes 5-megapixel photos compared to the Spark’s 12-megapixel ones. But it’s a lot cheaper than the $499 Spark, too. The Tello isn’t supposed to launch until March, but it’s debuting at CES this week and is available for pre-order now at B&H, so hopefully we’ll be able to put its capabilities to the test.