The buzz around drones is undeniable these days — as it turns out, even Martha Stewart uses one to survey her farm — but there still hasn’t been a runaway drone hit that has captured that imaginations of the masses. That’s exactly what a hardware startup called AirDroids is trying to accomplish with the Pocket Drone, a (relatively) inexpensive flying machine that’s meant to give people of all stripes a different perspective.
They’re serious about that “perspective” bit, too. The original vision was simple enough: co-founders Tim Reuter, TJ Johnson, and Chance Roth really just wanted to create a cheap way to tote a camera through the sky. Those ambitions evolved slightly though, and now they’re looking at the Pocket Drone as the ideal air machine to kick off a widespread drone revolution.
“We’re a mission-driven company,” Reuter said. “Our goal is to put flying robots in the hands of as many people as possible. We think it’s empowering to democratize the sky.”
Plenty of rapid iteration formalized the Pocket Drone’s shape — by which I mean marathon 3D printing sessions in Johnson’s basement — and the process seems to have been fruitful. In its current form, the Pocket Drone can tote around a GoPro (or something of similar weight) for up to 20 minutes, and support for GPS navigation and tablet controls means that you don’t have to be an RC fanatic (like some of the co-founders) to maneuver of these things through the air.
And, as the name suggests, the drone is just slight enough to fit into a pocket (albeit a pretty large one). It’s not going to fit in your jeans, but it does slide in and out of a windbreaker pocket without too much hassle. That’s mostly thanks to the drone’s folding design — the three rotors’ arms can fold back and telescope for easy storage. The inclusion of easily replaceable carbon fiber chassis components also simplifies the process of swapping out damaged bits — after all, no matter how skilled a pilot you are you’re probably still going to crash every once in a while.
In the event that you’re itching to take to the skies with a Pocket Drone, the team just recently launched a Kickstarter campaign where you can lay claim to your own unit for as low as $415 if you bring your own remote control equipment. Production is going to take a bit of time though — AirDroids is linking up with a Taiwanese manufacturing concern with operations in Mexico to bring the Pocket Drone to market and they hope to get units on peoples’ doorsteps and in the air by June of this year.