As of July 2014, crowdfunding wunderkind Kickstarter claims to have helped artists, musicians, programmers and entrepreneurs garner $1.2 billion in total dollars pledged as well as launching 65,001 successfully funded projects. As a cutting-edge industry, drone technology projects are making quick inroads into the funding fray.
Three recent drone projects to reach the stratosphere of successful crowdfunding include:
Heralded as “a programmable, autonomous flying robot,” Spiri is the brainchild of Patrick Edwards-Daugherty, founder of Pleiades Consulting in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Described as a “versatile, airborne Linux device with sensors, cameras, wifi, cloud support, development tools and more,” Spiri is designed to be an “autonomous and social creature.” Daugherty’s vision for Spiri is to build a platform that is easily customizable. Developers build their own apps allowing the drone to serve any purpose -“a courier, a rescuer, a spelunker, a cartographer, a playmate, a gardener, an inspector, a reporter, a teammate, a wanderer, anything.”
The quadcopter is equipped with an impressive array of sensors including gyroscope, accelerometers, magnetometer, GPS, and downward-facing acoustic sensor. For imaging, Spiri sports downward and forward-facing cameras and a forward-facing range finder. A USB connection will allow additional sensor arrays. Spiri closed its kickstarter run with 382 backers pledging $140,000 — $20,000 more than Daugherty’s $120K goal and the first models are scheduled to be released in August.
Imagine you’re a drone developer. You set a modest Kickstarter goal of $10,000 to manufacture the “world’s first personalized smartphone controlled nanocopter that lets you see the world from a different perspective.” However, your five-figure expectations quickly multiply and you end up with more than $500,000 in pledges from 4,670 funders – and all before you graduate college.
Welcome to Ben Black’s world.
The University of Southern California computer science major describes himself as a member of the Flexbot team and the company has big plans for its namesake (which was formerly known as Hex). Black touts the Flexbot as a “completely open source nanocopter kit” and “the world’s first consumer electronic product that uses 3D printing technology to achieve personalization.” With a starting price of $50, the drone is perfect for the Drones for Dummies demographic, can be piloted via smartphone and its body design has many personalization options. The copter can be outfitted with a camera and the kit can simply be clicked together.
3) Pocket Drone
Black’s project may have reached a higher-than-expected altitude with a half-million-dollar pledge mark, but Washington-based company AirDroids has achieved high orbit as an almost-million dollar baby. Founded by drone enthusiast Timothy Reuter, AirDroids raised $929,212 in pledges on Kickstarter to develop the Pocket Drone, a “personal flying robot that enables anyone to capture amazing video and photos from the sky.” Reuter states the small copter offers a collapsible, compact design as well as “advanced software and systems with autopilot and ‘follow me’ mode.” Marketed as the multicopter with the longest flight time of any model under $500, Pocket Drone was featured as a hardware-innovation finalist at the TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield 2014 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. The first shipments are scheduled to go out later this summer.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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