Drones may have gone mainstream, but it’s not everyday that you see an entry to that marketplace from a veteran technologist with a history of popularizing clever little robot vacuum cleaners. Having already built a pair of industry-oriented drones, Roomba co-designer Helen Grainer’s startup CyPhy Works has made its first flirt with the consumer space with a moderately priced six-rotor drone that takes flight with a swipe of the smartphone screen.
Just as Parrot made the idea of piloting a drone more palatable to beginners with smartphone controls with its AR Drones, CyPhy Works too is looking to put the intuitive thumbs of iOS and Android users to work. Users can control the CyPhy LVL 1 Drone through simple on-screen swipes, with a first person view streamed back to the user through a Wi-Fi network over an impressive 20 minute flight time.
With six rotors as opposed to the customary four found on most consumer drones, CyPhy says it has designed the LVL 1 so it doesn’t need to tilt in order to move. The company calls this its Level-Up technology, claiming it will enhance handling and allow for smoother, more stable captures.
Photos are snapped at eight megapixels and video shot at 1080p HD. The app also enables users to share these captures over social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter in real-time while the drone is still in the air.
In keeping with the anyone-can-fly-this-thing mantra, CyPhy has also built in a geofencing feature to give users a little peace of mind. Through the app, a maximum and minimum height can be configured and a geofence created literally by pacing out the boundaries with the smartphone in hand, a feature that’s sure to save a few rotors from the trash heap as users get a grip on things.
CyPhy Works has taken to Kickstarter to get its first consumer-facing drone off the ground. Looking to raise US$250,000 to enter commercial production, the company has raised around half of this at the time of writing. Early pledges of $445 still remain and will have a CyPhy LVL 1 Drone headed your way next February if everything goes to plan.