GoPro’s first attempt at a drone is back in the skies. On Wednesday, GoPro announced the Karma drone is now on sale — again.
After the Karma’s initial launch, the drone was well received for its portability and ease of use but then GoPro noticed a problem. Some of the Karmas were losing power mid-flight, causing them to drop out of the air. GoPro initiated a recall of the quadcopter in November — after less than a month on the market — though there wasn’t a legal obligation to start the recall and no injuries were reported from the glitch.
The problem? The movement from the drone was causing the battery to pop out of place. The newly relaunched Karma has a redesigned battery latch, ensuring that the battery stays in place during the flight.
“Safety is our biggest priority, so this decision came after we learned that a small number of Karma units were experiencing power loss mid-flight. We knew we had to move quickly. Really, it was an easy decision but difficult news to share,” the company said in a blog post.
With the re-release, GoPro is reiterating the drone’s use not just for aerial shots but as a “versatile stabilization solution” thanks to the Karma stabilizer grip included with the drone as well as sold individually.
The Karma drone was already delayed a year before the official launch last fall — industry experts say the recall and delay will likely have a significant effect on the drone’s sales — particularly since the DJI Mavic Pro launched only a week later with a similar compact size but additional features including obstacle avoidance. It’s unclear whether the company’s move to recall the drone without a legal reason to do so will gain the company some much-needed karma (pun intended) after laying off staff shortly after the recall.
Still, even before the recall, early users said the drone was easy to use for aerial videography newbies, with a video game-like controller and four auto-follow modes. GoPro is calling the relaunched Karma “Hollywood in a backpack” because of the drone’s folding design and removable stabilizer.
The Karma, with the redesigned battery latch, will sell for the same $800 (or $1,100 with the Hero5 camera) price as the first launch. GoPro says it is also planning to release a kit without the Karma grip, for users that purchased only the stabilizer during the drone’s recall.
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