It is always great fun to hang out with the team from GDU at drone tradeshows. They bring great machines to the show floor and have some truly innovative ideas that keep us excited. Their main machine has multiple variants and their latest is a first of a kind on the consumer market.
Not much more to say without introducing the drones – here is our quick GDU drones guide.
Have you ever heard of the drone manufacturer ProDrone? They’re a big player in the Chinese market developing some big drones. We walked up to one at InterDrone 2017 that was near four feet tall and had big robotic arms. It was fascinating, unless you fear the machines taking over, then it was pretty formidable.
GDU used to be called ProDrone back when they launched their first Byrd folding quadcopter. They are a lifestyle company as much as a drone manufacturer now, but that ‘other stuff’ seems to have tamed down, their compact, folding drone was nearly the only thing on display at InterDrone and still their prominent piece at CES 2018.
The GDU Byrd is the first and main drone to come from the brand, it can be found in multiple variants over the years, and now we have the O2. And that’s your history of GDU… I’m kidding, let’s dive in to the drones:
If you are flying for pay, or any other form of compensation, you must operate under a different set of rules and possess a commercial drone license. We call it the Part 107, it’s not too hard to get, but it will take some time to learn all the rules. We want to help you learn the rules and get your commercial license, check out our drone pilot training material.
GDU Byrd Standard
The white drone that started it all off. Also, one of the first consumer drones that folded down for transport. This is the base design still being built today for the line. It’s a pretty simple quadcopter design where the arms fold into the side of the drone. many drones dropped their arms straight down, which helps, but the full compact nature of the Byrd has been adopted by many moving forward.
Check out the GDU Byrd Standard for $749 on Amazon, when available.
GDU Byrd Advanced
Stepping things up, the GDU Byrd Advanced trades a bod color from white to this new soft black color. Upgraded systems do everything just a little better and the GoPro gimbal enables more options for video from the sky.
Check out the GDU Byrd Advanced for $849 today. (Currently unavailable.)
GDU Byrd Premium 1.0
We first put hands on the Byrd Standard at CES 2016, but didn’t fly a GDU product until this Byrd Premium 1.0. The experience was exhilarating. This is one powerful machine, not to mention the Byrd line is a large frame quadcopter, creating a smile-inducing experience every time to tap that throttle.
Large and powerful enough to haul a small DSLR into the air, yet still folds down to fit in a backpack. It’s the best of both worlds in terms of capabilities and portability.
Related reading: GDU Byrd Premium 1.0 review
Check out the GDU Byrd Premium 1.0 for $999. Also unavailable at this time.
GDU Byrd Premium 2.0
Take all the best that the Byrd Premium 1.0 has to offer and add in far better connectivity and range, that is the short description of the Byrd Premium 2.0. The machines get about 29 minutes of flight and can haul all sorts of payloads, including a large selection of modular cameras from GDU.
The earlier Byrds relied on WiFi connectivity, where the Byrd Premium steps up to more capable RC connectivity. This is a necessary measure for longer flights.
Check out the GDU Byrd Premium 2.0 for $1049 today.
Announced at InterDrone 2017, the new GDU O2 is a compact machine that is like nothing from GDU before. Instead of a large quadcopter that folds, we’re looking at a small quadcopter that slides the propeller arms into its body for transport. Better yet, the remote control snaps to the drone, protecting the joysticks, antennas and of course the propellers and 3-axis camera and gimbal on the drone.
We’re reserving full judgment until we spend some time with a review unit, but the GDU O2 could very well be the most portable drone we’ve ever laid hands on.
Still to come: GDU O2 Plus
We have seen very little thus far, but GDU has made it clear that a Plus version of the O2 is on its way. Much like the difference between the Byrd Premium 1.0 and 2.0, the O2 and O2 Plus will be mostly the same machine, with a few enhancements. Primarily, the original O2 offers up to 1 KM of range, the O2 Plus will allow HD video streaming up to 7 KM. Making for a much more reliable connection in close range as well.
Also, the GDU O2 is one of few drones that comes with internal storage space. The O2 Plus will double the amount of space over the original O2.
Stay tuned for more on the GDU O2 Plus. Update: We were told to expect the Plus in the latter half of 2018.
GDU drones wrap up
Up until the release of the GDU O2, we had unfairly summed up GDU as filling just one segment of the drone market. The Byrd line is robust and offers many capabilities, but it is a large and powerful drone, not ideal for a simple flight in the park or as a hiking companion.
We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again, If you want something small and fun that does okay for video, check out the DJI Spark for about $500. If you want step up to a great camera on a 3-axis gimbal and some of the best flight characteristics of a consumer drone on the market today, grab the DJI Mavic Pro for about $1000. If you want something that sufficiently sits in between the two, offering a 3-axis gimbal and great portability, the GDU O2 is here.
We’re excited for the GDU O2. We hope you are too. Stay tuned for more coverage, we should have a unit in hand soon. In the mean time, don’t forget that the Byrd drone is a highly capable machine for larger operations.
Anyone order the GDU O2 yet?