A Massachusetts start-up is looking to bump up its reputation as the premier name in drone crash avoidance.
Panoptes, a Cambridge-based spinoff of Aurora Flight Sciences, launched a Kickstarter campaign Tuesday for the eBumper – billed as the first commercially-available, sonar-based, small drone obstacle avoidance system for low-speed and indoor operations. In other words, the system keeps your drone on the up-and-up.
DRONELIFE was able to test the eBumper in October and it really impressed us. The eBumper system has evolved through a development process since last year and is now ready for prime time. Available for 3DR Iris and DJI Phantom 2 UAV models, the eBumper is an add-on that deploys four sonar sensors.
The sensors feed a steady stream of information to the drone about its physical location relative to obstacles facing front, right, left and above. If the UAV flies too close to a detected obstacle, eBumper “bumps” off the object before impact with a “safe-distance” bubble.
With an expected launch date of July for the Phantom model and August for the Iris+, Panoptes is seeking a close partnership with users. The company collected feedback from beta testers to improve the prototype’s capability and is asking users for new feature ideas.
The Panoptes team looked to Mother Nature when designing the eBumper. “We took a lot of research from biology and found the most effective and efficient way to build this [eBumper] was to copy what bugs and bats do,” Panotpes’ Commercialization lead Terrence McKenna told DRONELIFE in October. “They actually have blurry, almost pixelated vision but excellent navigation capabilities — a vision sensor can’t see glass but echolocation can.”
- Precision and Performance Mode: Users can choose from one of two protection distance bubbles, which “governs how far away the drone starts executing a bump avoidance maneuver.” Option 1 is Performance Mode (speedier) or Precision Mode (slower speeds in more cluttered environments).
- Auto-Takeoff: “With the literal flip of a switch, your drone takes off to a hover about 6 feet off the ground. This works both outdoors and indoors … no more unfortunate encounters with your living room ceiling.”
- Precision Control: Allows a more precisely controlled position and velocity — useful for indoor flight in tight spaces.
- Self-Centering: If the eBumper “sees” obstacles to the left and right, this function centers the drone equidistant between them.
Early adopters can receive a discount price of $359 for a limited time.
Could you use an eBumper? Let us know in the comments!
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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