The Sky is Falling for the GoPro Karma Drone

A new GoPro Karma foldable drone is seen flying during a press event in Olympic Valley, California (Photo JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)
A new GoPro Karma foldable drone is seen flying during a press event in Olympic Valley, California (Photo JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images) /

GoPro announces the recall of all it’s GoPro Karma Drones after multiple reports of the remote camera system falling from the sky.

When GoPro announced they were coming out with their own camera drone called the GoPro Karma, I was very interested. While there are other camera drones already on the market that provide a lot more options that are important to consumers, (e.g. GPS tracking and obstacle avoidance), the main reason I was looking into the Karma was that I use my GoPro Hero4 Silver camera almost daily.

When it comes to getting some quick action footage from a vehicle, the Hero4 Silver is my primary action camera. I have owned enough GoPro’s that I am familiar with how the system operates and it doesn’t take much time at all to setup the suction cup mount and stick my GoPro to the outside of a vehicle to get some quick, raw footage.

But the main reason I wanted the Karma specifically was because it could be bundled with the new Hero5 Black. With the Hero5 Black, I no longer have to worry about switching out the camera’s external housing every time I want to get a different weather condition shot.

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If you have ever brought the wrong GoPro housing with you for a photo shoot, you know exactly what I am talking about. The HERO5 Black is the perfect fix, and something that I know would make getting that quick driving video a little easier for me.

So it just made sense to bundle both the camera and the drone this holiday season. Well, it looks like it was a good thing I waited!

Last week, right around the time that the presidential election was in full swing, GoPro announced a complete recall of all its Karma drones. Apparently, the company has been flooded with reports that their new drone completely shuts down mid-flight and comes crashing down to earth!

And there are plenty of videos on YouTube from frustrated GoPro Karma owners to prove it. I spent some time watching a lot of these videos, and it appears to me that most of these failures happen around the first 2-3 minutes of flight.

This is very disturbing considering flight time for the Karma drone was said to be almost 20 minutes.

GoPro has not released an official statement as to what the specific problem is with its drone, but several different sources have stated that the placement of the camera may be a source of the issue.

The Go Pro Karma places it’s camera out in front of its drone instead of underneath which may lead to an unsteady center of gravity. This could lead to increased vibration, possibly causing the camera’s battery to lose connection mid-flight.

GoPro has asked consumers to immediately stop flying all 2,500 purchased drones and return them directly to GoPro or the authorized store it was purchased for a full refund.

The sad part is that if you bought the bundle with the upgraded HERO5, you have to return the whole package.

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I spent some time checking out the HERO5 and the Karma at the GoPro booth this year at SEMA, and I am still sold on the upgrading to the HERO5 Black.

But until GoPro announces a fix to this expensive problem, I have no problem waiting until I start seeing some successful 20 min flights with the Karma before I put my order in for the drone.