Live from the Lab
The FreeBird One is a product, not a concept. We recently made a few videos to demonstrate some of its features.
Strength - Pull and Lift Capacity:
In this video, we pull 75 pounds including a bicycle trailer and enclosed payload with plenty of throttle to spare. We then pull the empty trailer (20 pounds) into a "runway-style" liftoff.
Increase Flight Time with a Tether:
For certain applications where FreeBird One does not need to move around much horizontally, tethering the vehicle to ground-based power source may be an attractive options. This can be the vehicle's own battery (as in this video) or an outlet-connected DC power source for indefinite flight times.
We also think this could be a useful setup for new pilot training. Not only can this increase the in-flight training time, but it provides another safety mechanism. By securing the power lines on either end, they act as a strong tether that can physically prevent a fly-away situation or keep any loss of control scenario when flying manually within a guaranteed radius.
FreeBird One Has the strength and durability to handle a variety of tools. In this clip, the FreeBird One has a garden hose and watering nozzle attached to it. Not only does the water pressure in the hose not cause stabilization challenges, but the vehicle can move around dragging the hose under pressure along the ground with ease as well.
Stability and Speed:
Watch the FreeBird One fly at 50mph and reorient after completing a flip:
Stability and Safety:
FreeBird One is so stable and produces so little vibration that it can cover with a wine glass placed on one of the side covers while in flight. Because the blades are enclosed, FreeBird One can also be maneuvered by hand while hovering in Altitude Hold Mode.
The 3D-Printed SurroundFrame is very strong. While remaining reigid in the air for maximum flight stability, it's impact absorption capability is excellent. In this video, at 15-pound FreeBird One absorbs a hard landing on a corner after we cut the throttle early. See the frame bend at various points around the vehicle. Most larger UAVs would absorb a landing like this in 1 arm, likely causing it and at least 1 propeller to break.
50 MPH Fast Stop:
Not only can FreeBird One accelerate and fly fast, but it can stop in an instant as well.
Freebird One: The Future is Here
FreeBird One and our patent-pending SurroundFrame introduce a new standard in UAV airframe design, system performance, and safety. We were drawn to the idea of this project two years ago because:
- We saw enormous potential for this exciting new technology
- We felt that existing products had a number of drawbacks that limited the potential of the technology.
These drawbacks included:
- Narrow focus (mostly aerial video and toys)
- Short flight times (10-20 mins)
- Unsafe (free-spinning blades on vehicles often operated by inexperienced pilots)
- Use limited to calm weather conditions (adding to the un-safeness factor when operated outside of these parameters)
- Lack of redundancy of key flight electronics (accelerometers, gyroscope, compass, GPS -- failure of any of these sensors leads to catastrophic flight failure)
- Limited design creativity (mostly traditional flywheel design, especially in larger-size units)
- Overpriced options for the commercial UAV market ($10,000+ for most units)
With regulatory scrutiny starting to intensify, we thought there had to be a way to design a UAV that could be a lot safer, useful for a wide range of applications in all types of weather conditions, affordable, -- and all of this without sacrificing flight time. We also wanted to develop a product that would be FAA-friendly with spare capacity to carry necessary communications equipment be integrated into the National Air Space (NAS) as technologies became available.
After 2 years of hard work, we've accomplished much of our objectives with 2 products:
- SurroundFrame: An airframe that introduces a new level of safety, strength and flexibility not seen before.
- FreeBird One: Our SurroundFrame with high-quality, optimized components that delivers the safest, strongest, fastest, longest flying, most weather-resistant and most customizable UAV in a single system.
SurroundFrame (Product 1): A New Standard in UAV Airframe Technology
The SurroundFrame eclipses the durability and performance of today’s tubular flywheel design standard, while adding safety as a critical feature. What sets the Freebird One apart from the rest of the UAV market (visually and functionally) is our proprietary 3-foot diameter patent-pending 3D-printed carbon fiber SurroundFrame.
SurroundFrame Feature Highlights
- Rotors are structurally enclosed for safety and increased versatility. These enclosures are not facades like other models. They provide structural integrity to the entire frame (described more below).
Unmatched Lightweight Strength:
- Distributed Stress Absorption: The SurroundFrame distributes stress from the motors and in-air turbulence around the vehicle. Notably, the 4 motor mounts attach up to the frame at 12 points rather the typical 4 points on other quads. This significantly reduces the chance of in-flight failure from a fractured arm.
- Motor Mounts Double as Landing Pads: This saves weight, extends flight time, and enables FreeBird One to absorb hard landings without bending or breaking landing gears.
- Impact Resistant: FreeBird One can bump into and along objects (like a wall or fence) without causing property or vehicle damage or injuries.
Flexible and Future-Proofed Design:
- Ample Flat Mounting Space: Flat surface areas in 4 weather-protected bays around the vehicle to mount electronics - and with up to 3 feet between them, RF interference is mitigated. Standard pre-printed threading in these bays enables custom mounting attachments to the top or bottom of the vehicle.
- Multiple Payload Mounting Options: The SurroundFrame can carry multiple payloads with pre-printed threading in 8 locations above and below the frame as well as under each of the 4 landing pads.
- Ready for Future Attachments: The heavy-duty threading underneath the landing pads provides connection points for attachments, currently under development, to perform a variety of functions, including heavy lift operations. Because of their placement directly beneath the motors, payloads can be lifted directly by the motors, minimizing stress on the rest of the frame.
- Infinitely Customizable: There is plenty of design flexibility out of the box with pre-existing threading around the vehicle. In addition, custom built-in customizations can be made on request (once commercially-launched) because of our ability to make on-the-fly design changes to the 3D-CAD model and preview the renderings for customers before 3D printing the system. In addition, customers who want to customize the entire flight system can purchase the SurroundFrame independently either assembled or as a DIY kit to install their own components.
- Easy Custom Wiring: Conduits within the frame carry wiring to system electronics outside of the center bay, keeping wiring hidden from sight and protected from environmental elements.
- Easily-removable body components and accessories to accommodate flight requirements and manage vehicle weight/flight times (ie weather-protecting covers).
Digital Replacement Parts:
- FreeBird Flight will make 3D-printable .STL files for replacement parts available to customers who have their own 3D-printing capabilities. Additionally, replacement parts will always be available for shipping. Since Freebird Flight can quickly print replacement parts as necessary, customers will not encounter the frequent frustration of out-of-stock parts associated with competing products.
FreeBird One (Product 2): SurroundFrame with Optimized Components Delivers Unmatched Performance in a Single UAV System
FreeBird One Feature Highlights
- Flight Time: Up to 30 mins.
- Max Horizontal Speed: Up to 70 MPH (50 MPH with standard motor/prop configuration)
- Max Vertical Speed: 3,000 feet/min
- Payload Capacity: Up to 20 pounds (15 pounds with standard motor/prop configuration)
- Structurally-Enclosed Rotors
- Virtual Fence
- Automatic Return to Home with Multiple Failsafe Triggers: Rally points can also be set to give Freebird One other options to land safely if it cannot make it back to the launch location.
- Pause Button
- Dedicated Motor Shut-Off Switch
- Redundancy: GPS (2), Accelerometer (2), Gyroscope (2), Compass (2)
- Isolated Power Supply for Flight Electronics: The flight controller has its own power source (to insulate from voltage fluctuations under heavy current draw from motors and assist in vehicle search and recovery)
- Use it Anytime, Anywhere: FreeBird One is designed to be used anywhere in nearly any weather, including wind, rain and snow conditions.
Advanced Flight Automation:
- Fully-Autonomous Flight: Point and click on Google Maps during flight, fly pre-scripted mission from take-off to landing passing multiple waypoints
- Many Flight Modes: Simple, Loiter, Altitude Hold, Circle, Simulated Airplane, Follow-Me, Fly-To-Me
- Flight Profiles: FreeBird Flight has developed custom flight profiles (essentially personalities) to optimize FreeBird One’s performance and handling in different circumstances (ie high-wind optimization, fast flight, soft handling, fine-maneuvering in tight spaces).
Flexible User Interface:
- Multi-Platform Ground-Station Software: Tablet, phone, PC/MAC
- Multi-Controller Capable: Tablet, phone, PC/MAC, traditional remote controller, joystick, gamepad (XBOX, etc)
- Simultaneous-Controller Capable: Optional simultaneous use of remote controller and PC/Tablet/Phone ensures 2 control links to the vehicle -- useful for training and as redundant radio control link to the vehicle.
- Optional 3D Live Video Feed: Freebird One optionally offers a live 3D video feed to a VR headset for precise maneuvering near objects.
3D Printing Offers Unique Benefits
We initially used 3D printing as a way to rapid prototype our R&D, but as time progressed, our 3D printing techniques and filament materials advanced such that it was clear the best possible airframe at this point is actually a 3D-printed one. Revising our design to accommodate the various limitations of injection molding would not only result in a less-robust and heavier design, but a much more expensive one as well.
Advantages of a 3D-Printed Manufacturing Process:
- We can customize and produce parts quickly.
- Replacement parts can be produced “on-demand” and are always available.
- Design enhancements and new features/attachments can be rolled out quickly.
- New materials offer exciting new possibilities. We have several industry-firsts in the works, including advanced vibration management and shock absorption integrated into carbon fiber parts and “structural” wiring using conductive filament.
- Superior Quality Control: 3D printing enables in-house production. We see the parts come off the line and monitor quality in real time. We have no overseas or third party production issues.
- Low Cost Structure: 3D printers are relatively inexpensive, and do not require extensive or expensive maintenance. 3D printing enables the best design, with no manufacturing process constraints. Our manufacturing process supports the design - not the other way around.
One Platform, Unlimited Uses
We believe most industries will look to UAVs to benefit their businesses—we’re already seeing innovative uses in industries such as agriculture and oil & gas. Regulatory clarity will play a big part in their deployment, and so will creative thinking. Like most new technologies (computers, cell phones, the Internet, etc), the extent of the possibilities can hardly even be imagined, let alone predicted.
We even think UAVs are likely to be a common “power tool” among households in the future. They may be used to do yard work – replacing or supplementing leaf blowing, snow blowing, cleaning gutters, seeding lawns, providing perimeter security surveillance for large properties, deer patrol – to name a few.
In fact, we have successfully demonstrated FreeBird One’s ability to blow leaves and plow snow – from walkways to driveways to rooftops even. With additional attachments, such successfully demonstrated tasks can be done even more effectively.
Why We Are Asking For Your Support
Why are we coming to Kickstarter? We like disruptive technologies as you might have guessed. Kickstarter is a disruptive technology, so we like that. We want to get this product into end users’ hands. We’re a small business with high hopes to grow, and we need market feedback and broader awareness to take the product to the next stage, as well as to attract additional human resource talent. We think we’re on to something and we want to share it with you. Additionally, whatever feedback you are willing to share will help us improve FreeBird One further.
We realize that the reward categories we’re offering here are higher than what you typically see on Kickstarter. FreeBird One is a high-end system with high quality components. It is designed to work for a long time and be very reliable. We’re offering a lot of performance at a substantial discount to anything comparable that is commercially available today. We analyzed specs on 62 competing models (none of which beats FreeBird One in more than 1 key performance metric) with a median price of nearly $7,000. A summary of that analysis is available on our website at this link: www.FreeBirdFlight.com/performance/
Summary of Reward Categories
Use of Funds
Our $50,000 Kickstarter campaign will allow us to accomplish the following:
- Purchase additional 3D printers to produce units at a sufficient rate to satisfy the delivery dates outlined in the rewards categories.
- Get valuable feedback from the Kickstarter community. If you contribute, we’d really like any and all feedback you are willing to share.
- Gain broader exposure for FreeBird Flight, perhaps opening up new partnership opportunities, or connecting with people who may be a good fit for our team.
- Begin a commercial launch of FreeBird One and continue development of the product.
With the launch of FreeBird One on Kickstarter, we are releasing a best-in-class, highly capable, category-defining AUV.
FreeBird One is virtually commercial-production ready today. Numerous prototypes have logged over 100 hours of real-world flight testing over the past year. Countless revisions and enhancements have been implemented to increase flight time, reduce weight, increase strength, and maximize reliability. We believe the platform is stellar and ready for commercial introduction.
This is still just the beginning for FreeBird Flight. After fulfilling our Kickstarter campaign units, our plan is to build on the platform in 6 ways.
1. SurroundFrame Improvements
5. Enhanced User Interface
6. Artificial Intelligence
If we can exceed our Kickstarter goal, it will go a long way to helping us accelerate these product improvement initiatives, particularly because we will expand our team with skill sets and resources to pursue multiple initiatives simultaneously.
Risks and challenges
The risks associated with our launch are similar to those you would find in any complex, ambitious technology product. As demonstrated in our video, we have a complete, robust drone. The challenge is to scale production, while maintaining the level of quality and reliability.
We’ve considered potential obstacles and have minimized those we can control. There are some that are out of our control:
- Supply chain issues: we use components from trusted suppliers that we have found to be reliable, with clear lead times and commitments on availability. However, any issue on their end could delay our production schedule.
- We have tested the FreeBird One in multiple locations and in strenuous environments. We have logged hundreds of hours in our testing phase. This rigorous testing has resulted in fine tuning frame design and flight settings, but it is not exhaustive in terms of the locations, and conditions you may fly in.
- You may think of uses for the drone that we haven’t tried yet. We'll be soliciting your feedback, and responding to issues you may encounter. We plan to host conference calls to address any concerns that arise and answer questions you may have.
- We will communicate actively with backers via e-mail, a backers-only section of our website and via the Kickstarter website with regard to our progress, and above all, we will call special attention to any unexpected obstacles and our plans for addressing them.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)