While drones may have previously been the preserve of the military, the rise of the personal drone has now truly arrived.
A Kickstarter campaign by AirDroids to fund it’s new “pocket drone” has netted more than 2,000 pre-orders and $929,212 in funding capital. The company aims to build the first, mass market drone incorporating features that would have been the sole preserve of the military less than five years ago.
President and co-founder Timothy Reuter, who worked in Afghanistan, sees it as a huge turning point. “Hitting close to a million dollars and becoming the most popular drone project in the history of Kickstarter validates our idea that there is huge demand for convenient and accessible consumer drone products,” Reuter said.
Private drone use has grown globally with users flying everything from Parrot AR drones that can be picked up from retailers like Amazon for less than $300, to multi thousand dollar drones used by professional survey companies.
Described on it’s website as “The GoPro of drones” the AirDroid Pocket Drone incorporates the wealth of accrued knowledge by the the flying robot community distilled into a single product. It features a high impact ABS and carbon fiber body, it can be folded up and stored in pouch enabling it to easily be carried in a cargo pants pocket and it’s rotor blades are collapsable, so that the drone is more robust in the event of a crash.
The major selling point, however, is its lift capabilities. The Pocket Drone has been designed from the outset to be a “Heavy lift” vehicle. The Drone can easily fly carrying up to a half pound payload — meaning that attaching an extreme environment camera such as a GoPro will no longer be an aftermarket, jerry-rigged option.
The drone can be flown from an Android phone or tablet, or by a control box similar to a remote control airplane. The drone will also take advantage of the huge leap in recent years of geo location technology. The drone can be programmed to follow a waypoint flight planning system using google maps, or the drone can interface with the GPS on the control unit in what is being called “Follow Me” mode. This will likely prove popular with extreme sports enthusiasts who will be able to have the drone follow them in their exploits, without having to control the drone at the same time.
Reuter sees the AirDroid’s future impact in the drone market as significant. “In the same way that point of view videography, with tools like a GoPro, has transformed the way we tell stories, we think the widespread ability to capture aerial imagery will empower people to understand their world in new ways,” Reuter declared. “We are looking forward to a future where everyone will be able to have their own personal flying robot.”
Backers of the Kickstarter campaign will receive their drones this summer. Pre orders for the drone are slated to begin in April and Reuter, speaking to TechCrunch is seeking to have the PocketDrone on the shelves of major retailers by the fall.
Watch Pocket Droid in action here: