A GoPro Died to Bring Us This Insane Drone Footage of a Volcano Erupting

Though Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano isn't the media sensation it was a month ago, it's still steadily erupting—as shown by this incredible video shot with a DJI Phantom 2 drone and a GoPro Hero 3, which did not survive the trip (though the memory card did!).


Brian Lam brings us news of the project over at Wired, which was carried out by DJI's Eric Cheng and an Icelandic photographer named Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson. The duo drove as close as they could to the eruption—and when authorities stopped their car. Because DJI's Phantom 2 has a failsafe mechanism that directs the drone to return to the user once it's beyond range, Cheng describes the process of walking even closer to the mouth of the eruption (clad in a gas mask, according to Lam) to get an even better shot.

Finally, after a particularly close pass, Cheng realized the GoPro had actually begun to melt; the plastic bubbling and the circular button sliding to one side. We recently learned that a GoPro could withstand the temperature of boiling water, but this—this was too much:

Illustration for article titled A GoPro Died to Bring Us This Insane Drone Footage of a Volcano Erupting

Inside, the memory card was fully functional—hence the remarkable footage we see above. DJI has released a more in-depth behind the scenes look at how it all went down, too, so check that out here, and the full Wired account of the adventure here. [Wired; DJI; Eric Cheng]


Guided drones can be really useful, but they don't seem like the best candidate for a static, hostile environment like this. It would be more effective to build a stationary arm of a durable, heat resistant metal, or even a cable/chain bridge over some cord over the expanse, of up to say 100 yards, then hang a thermally protected camera off of it for some up close and extended recording.