Roger Freeman’s career on Wall Street was lucrative and satisfying; but had become less interesting. You know what’s interesting? At least to Mr. Freeman. . . drones. So he left Wall Street and formed FreeBirdFlight with the goal of building a better drone. When he surveyed drones on the market (DJI, 3DR) they all conformed to essentially the same fundamental form factor, a quadcopter with exposed blades that was susceptible to wind gusts and breakage. He may have done that.
In a meeting with Mr. Freeman he stated that FreeBirdFlight’s objective was “to build the best drone platform we can . . .one that is good and solid.” He refers to it as a platform in that the drone they’ve developed, the FreeBird One, can be outfitted to address any of a broad range of applications from delivery to aerial photography to fire safety.
What makes the drone unique is its design. First it’s large, measuring 31″ square. This allows for larger propellers which improve stability and allow it to hover reliably in strong winds. All the components are nested in a carbon fiber frame that provides safety and durability. The propellers also allow for the drone to carry payloads of up to 20lbs.
Freeman used a 3D printer to iterate the design and manufacture the frame.
The enclosed propellers prevent damage to the blades in the event of a collision and also provide safety to the operator. The motors are weather proofed and the drone can be flown in adverse conditions. It can fly at speeds as fast as 70MPH. You can find the full specs for the product here.
It delivers this feature set and functionality at a price of $6,000. FreeBird maintains that it is competitive and in some cases outperforms the competition.
Click on the image for a larger view
The FreeBird One is essentially an open system that provides great flexibility in terms of how it can be configured and deployed. Users can complete the package with components that meet their specific requirements. Everything is included with exception of a camera/gimball system or any other “sensor” mounts like thermal imaging. But it does have mounting points for all of these things built in.
Roudning out the system with sensors of some type may be daunting for a business looking to adopt the technology. Freeman understands this and said that their market is integrators and resellers.
Here is a promotional video about the FreeBird One
We have not flown or tested a FreeBird One; but we find FreeBird’s unique selling proposition (open ended architecture) compelling. The features and functionality while applicable to a range of industries seem especially well suited for security — especially search and rescue and delivery to boats offshore. The drone’s ability to fly in adverse weather conditions (eg. high winds, precipitation) give it an advantage over other systems (such as the DJI Phantom series) and its price point is competitive.