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The world's first multicopter that's powerful enough to carry a high quality action camera and folds up smaller than a 7in tablet.

The Pocket Drone is the personal flying robot that enables anyone to capture amazing video and photos from the sky. The year 2014 is going to be the “Year of the Drone.” Personal and professional photography is literally beginning to take off. Everybody can already take great looking photos and videos with their camera phones and share them online, but they have been limited to what could be seen from the ground. Now with the Pocket Drone, it's never been easier to capture spectacular aerial images that open up a whole new perspective and insight that had previously been unseen.

We aim to change the status quo through our little project with a BIG impact. We love flying robots, and we’re building them to share with the world.

Until now, most people could not participate in this awesome new technology revolution - the cost was too great, the drones too bulky, and the software too difficult to operate. And to top it off, it always seemed like either mom or dad (the photographer) was missing from family pictures. We’re proud to announce the launch of The Pocket Drone to address these challenges. Many of our supporters are calling it the "GoPro of drones."


The Pocket Drone key features

1. Unique cutting-edge collapsible compact design
2. Easy to fly and simple to maintain
3. Lightweight with maximum payload
4. Ready to fly (RTF) with everything you need out of the box and quick to deploy
5. Advanced software and systems with autopilot and "follow me" mode
6. Longest flight time of any multicopter under $500
7. High quality materials and components
8. Upgradeable, expandable and hackable
9. Designed with multiple safety features

We are also proud that our project has been selected from numerous other hardware innovations as a finalist at the TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield 2014 at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas

Project Background

Our team founded and leads the Drone User Group Network (http://www.DUGN.org), the world’s largest community organization dedicated to teaching people to build and operate their own flying robots. Through our community, each of had seen literally hundreds of different drone designs, but we weren't satisfied with anything we saw on the market. 

We saw a lot of kits out there that were powerful and flexible, but took a long time to put together, tune, and make work correctly. There were off the shelf products that worked out of the box, but were limited in their functionality. And there wasn't anything out there that was both powerful and convenient to carry. So we decided to create something that combined the best of everything we had seen, but was more elegant and accessible.

That's how we came up with The Pocket Drone, the world's smallest heavy lift micro-copter. It's as powerful as an open source kit, works out of the box with everything you need like an off the shelf product, and is easy to take with you wherever you go, without having to bring along an extra case or bag just for your drone. We've gone through dozens of iterations to create the perfect drone product that can be used by everyone.


The incredible history of aerial images

Aerial photography has a long and distinguished history. It began with an innovative kite based camera system pioneered by George Lawrence in 1906. He captured revolutionary aerial photos of the devastation caused by the great San Francisco earthquake (http://robroy.dyndns.info/lawrence/kitelines97.html). His photos show the enormity of the devastation and were used to identify specific issues and assist in the restoration of the area. The most popular of the series became one of the best selling photographs of all time selling over $15,000 worth of prints or about $375,000 today.

Now we’re moving into a whole new phase of aerial photography, the personal drone or multirotor helicopter, if you prefer. Using our expertise in aviation, manufacturing and business and supported by the largest drone user group in the world, we’ve designed and built The Pocket Drone to enable our users to captivate a whole new generation with amazing images and the experience of reaching into the sky.


Technology details

1. Unique cutting-edge collapsible compact design

  • Innovative swing arm and telescoping tail frame
  • Folding propellers
  • Built-in landing gear
  • Built-in camera mount
  • Travel case included

2. Easy to fly and simple to maintain

  • Pick your controller system
  • Pilot from our included controller or bring your own DSM compatible radio controller
  • Control from any Android tablet or phone with a USB port
  • Simple, quick and inexpensive to maintain and repair

3. Lightweight with maximum payload  

  • Flight and control is nimble, stable and accurate
  • Weighs in at around 1 pound
  • Carries an action camera like the GoPro(tm) with outer case (not included)
  • Capable of carrying up to 1/2 pound payload

4. Ready to fly (RTF) and quick to deploy  

  • Comes ready to fly right out of the box
  • Deploys in less than 20 seconds
  • Quick recharge system

5. Advanced software and systems with autopilot and "follow me" mode

  • State of the art flight controls, algorithms and connectivity
  • APM compatible flight controller 6-axis accelerometers, 3 axis gyroscopes, barometric sensor (altitude)
  • Integrated onboard autopilot Flight planning with Google Maps
  • Fly by GPS waypoints
  • "Follow Me" mode (requires mobile device with GPS)
  • Altitude Hold
  • Return to home (RTH)
  • Headfree mode (orientation independent flying)
  • Load/Save and repeat/replay flight missions
  • Real-time flight data
  • Artificial Horizon
  • Altitude Heading indicator
  • GPS signal strength
  • PC, Mac and Linux compatible
  • Mission Planner or QGroundControl Compatible
  • Android compatible (tablet and phone)
  • iOS compatibility coming soon

6. Longest Flight times of any copter under $500

  • Tricopter design means longest flight times available
  • Up to 20 minute flights (fully loaded with camera)
  • Exclusive propellers engineered and optimized especially for multicopters
  • Built-in low power alarm

7. High quality materials and components

  • Professional grade build quality and workmanship
  • Extra durable and robust airframe
  • Carbon fiber key components
  • Highest quality components
  • Advanced high-impact plastic resins
  • Designed in the USA

8. Upgradeable, expandable and hackable

  • Flight controller is programmable and easy to modify with open source tools
  • Mobile app is customizable and configurable with open source plugins
  • Designed for and by open-source enthusiasts
  • Always up-to-date firmware upgrades as improvements in control, power and stability become available
  • Add real-time video transmission for FPV
  • Add goggles for a full bird’s eye immersive experience

9. Designed with multiple built-in safety features

  • Exclusive retracting/breakaway propeller design
  • Minimal damage/injury from prop strike
  • Small size = lightweight vehicle = smaller props = reduced accident injury/damage potential
  • Micro tricopter design means much less spinning prop area
  • 33% less noise than any quad even before balancing and optimization


Community Support

  • Our team founded and leads the world's largest drone user community
  • Open documentation, support and service
  • Join a Drone User Group or other community based flying group in your local area for help learning how to fly.
  • Current Drone User Group locations can be found at www.dugn.org and include the DC Area, San Diego, Los Angeles/Orange County, New York City, San Francisco, North Texas, Fairbanks (Alaska), Portland, Phoenix, Dayton, South East Queensland (Australia), and Mexico City.
  • Drone User Group Network and Pocket Drone Founder can be seen on MSNBC, CNN, Washington Post, PBS


How to get started...

It's a lot of fun and more than a little exciting to see what can be captured from the air. But, if you're like us, getting the typical setup to work just right can and reliably can take a lot of time and can be a little frustrating. Our inspiration to build The Pocket Drone was to get away from those limitations.

It's simple to get going. The first thing is you'll need the right equipment.

1) An aerial vehicle like The Pocket Drone
2) A system for controlling the vehicle
3) A high quality camera (ie. GoPro(tm), or other sports camera)
4) A little practice

Capturing awesome images requires easy accessibility, quick deployment and a reliable high quality setup. The Pocket Drone opens up a whole new range of possibilities for creative photos and video. While developing our flying robot, we discovered that we had better, more dynamic and engaging content without the preparation that was required for any other aerial device. We are even more excited to see what you capture and share with the Pocket Drone when it's released into the wild.


Development Process

The Pocket Drone is a multi-rotor system like no other. We've put an enormous amount of time into optimizing the size, the payload and flight times. When folded up for portability it has a smaller footprint than a 7" tablet and is less than 3" tall. That means that you can carry it in a backpack, purse, or luggage with room to spare.It's simple yet elegant design is easy to deploy, fly and maintain.

Made out of carbon fiber and advanced high impact plastics, it's super durable and robust and will withstand rough off the beaten path treatment. Our exclusive retracting/collapsible propellers not only let it fit into your life, but are a built in safety feature with less injury/damage occuring from a prop strike. It also sports a built-in battery alarm, so you don't run out of juice mid flight.

The tricopter design means it's quieter, more precise and agile than any vehicle with more motors and props. The tricopter also has stronger yaw control to help maintain the camera where you want it while flying, so you capture what you want to see. It’s far stronger than the quad, hex, or octo based designs.

The Pocket Drone is piloted with a standard radio controller, on a tablet with virtual sticks or by pre-defined GPS waypoints using our software by simply dragging a path featuring a touch interface and Google Maps. You can also record, save and share, or download flight plans.

It even has an awesome "Follow Me" mode that enables the drone to follow the tablet or phone wherever it goes. Imagine capturing your bicycling, skiing, running or any other outdoor adventures hands free.

The Pocket Drone is our love letter to robots, flight and beautiful images.

We are ready for full production with your support. 

Special Thanks

We'd like to thank the maker movement for enabling us to prototype and develop our hardware for The Pocket Drone. Special thanks go out to The Drone User Group Network community, The Maker Faire (especially the San Diego Mini Maker Faire), The Fab Lab, and The Drone Lab. 


Here are the reward packages...

Exclusive Collapsible Propeller Package - $50

  • 4x optimized collapsible propellers
  • Revolutionary and proprietary collapsible propellers design
  • Makes it easier and safer to transport any multirotor vehicle
  • Full set for up to a quad (2xCW and 2xCCW)
  • Fits on most motors with the included propeller adapter for either a 3mm, 3.17mm or 4mm motor shaft
  • We highly recommend upgrading to The Pocket Drone for the full experience

Bind and Fly Package - $445

  • For experienced flyers who want to bring their own controller
  • 1x Ready to Fly Pocket Drone
  • 1x Pocket Drone Light Neoprene Case
  • 1x Lipo Battery Pack
  • 1x Lipo Battery Charger
  • 1x DSM compatible receiver
  • 1x 5.8Mhz telemetry with micro USB dongle

Ready to Fly Package - $495

  • Includes everything you need to operate your own drone.
  • Best option for most people
  • 1x Six Channel Radio Controller
  • 1x Everything From Bind and Fly package

Aerial Video/Photo Package - $595

  • For those who want everything they need to start taking videos and photos
  • 1x High quality action camera capable of recording 1080 HD video and drone mounts
  • 1x Everything From Ready to Fly Package


Team members

Timothy Reuter is the founder of the Drone User Group Network, the largest organization in the world dedicated to teaching people to build and operate their own drones. He loves helping people experience the joy of taking flight. 

TJ Johnson is a trained engineer, Intellectual Property attorney and pilot. Before getting into flying robots, he designed his own line of motorcycle engine control systems andsolar power hardware. He has a drone lab and maker space in his basement.

Chance Roth is an experienced maker, successful serial entrepreneur and pilot. He is the primary organizer for the drone area at the San Diego Maker Faire and previously developed and sold millions of units with his own line of innovative toy and RC products.


As seen on TV!


In the press...

Final Thoughts

Don't be fooled by its affordable price. The Pocket Drone is a tool, not a toy. Perfect for aerial photographers and videographers, the Pocket Drone is suitable for professionals and enthusiasts alike. The convenient form factor means it's easy to always keep with you for whenever you need to fly.

It's not just a drone, it's a transformer! And it can transform the way you think and interact with the world around you.


Pre-Production

  • Develop and finalize production design - DONE
  • 27 prototype iterations - DONE
  • Flight controller selection - DONE
  • Flight controller customization - DONE
  • Drive system development and analysis - DONE
  • Configure and tune hardware and software - DONE
  • Develop parts and materials supply chain - DONE
  • Develop custom manufacturing capability - DONE
  • Develop assembly capability - DONE
  • Develop alternative sources and vendors - DONE
  • Finalize BOM and assembly costs - DONE
  • Finalize total cost of goods - DONE
  • Marketing materials (instructions, packaging, etc.)


Production (after Successful funding)

  • First Production run
  • Finalize package and submit
  • Finalize stickers, t-shirts and other extras
  • Strike molds on propeller
  • Strike molds on casing and motor mounts
  • Place order for apparel rewards
  • Place order for off-the-shelf parts
  • Place order for custom part
  • Establish logistical systems (ie part numbers, etc)
  • Establish YouTube flight instruction channel
  • Establish workspace and lean manufacturing inspired assembly workflow
  • Begin assembling, flight testing each one as they come off the line
  • Ship The Pocket Drone to you!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

There is a explosive interest in the field of drones and multi-rotor technology and there is a lot of choice for the consumer. However, we feel our product reflects the very best of all combinations with respect to ease of use, utility, stability, compact size, portability, flight time, expandability, durability and feature rich software.

While we have extensive experience in all aspects of creating consumer products there are inherent risks involved with producing electronics and compounded by putting an object in the air and further by making it user controllable. There may be unforeseen production issues, shipping delays, a limited supply of parts and materials or even the possibility of legal incursions and regulatory restrictions.

We are not a factory of course and we will be partnering or contracting the actual production. There may be an interruption in development or production if we need to change suppliers, so we need to carefully select our vendors and production facilities.

We will source parts and materials from various domestic and international vendors. Currently, we intend to do initial assemblies and parts in Mexico and final assembly in the USA.

It is the customer’s responsibility to be aware of and abide by local Civil Aviation legislation in the customer’s region and all applicable laws, including but not limited to laws on importation, customs, privacy, safety, aircraft operation, sales, radio operations, license requirements and commercial operation laws. AirDroids disclaims any liability for the owner or operators violation of any laws. Further, by operating this product you agree not to hold AirDroid's its employees or directors liable in any manner for any reason.

By accepting this product, selecting a pledge to receive this product, or operating this product the customer accepts full responsibility to ensure this products in full compliance with all applicable laws including regional, local, customs and tax laws. It is the customers responsibility to ensure that all appropriate taxes including but not limited to VAT, sales taxes, importation, tariffs and import duties are paid that may be due. The customer agrees to not hold AirDroid's, its employees or directors liable for any taxes or other fees that may be due in any manner.

FAQ

  • You can fly approximately a mile out using our included radio controller and telemetry. If you are using your own controller, you will need to check the manufacturer specification sheet for the model you are using to determine the range of the system.

    The Pocket Drone can fly over 5,000 feet from where the pilot is standing, and theoretically can fly up to approximately 11,000 feet. At higher altitudes, the air gets thinner, which will make control more difficult. Please note that in the US the FAA recommends restricting your altitude to no higher than 400 feet above the ground. Flying above that height will bring you into airspace with manned aviation such as helicopters and planes, and can be highly dangerous.

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  • The Pocket Drone is capable of flying at a maximum speed of approximately 35-40mph, although flying for an extended period at that speed will lower its available flight time.

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  • We will be shipping the pocket drone with an extra set of propellers. You will also be able to purchase additional matched blades and other accessories from our website and retailers.

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  • Flying a device this small in heavy wind conditions is always going to be a challenge to counteract. Drones with GPS enabled are designed to stay in place and they will do their best to maintain a set position. In our experience, we have been able to fly in winds of up to 10mph without significant degradation of control. If there is a considerable amount of wind, it will put a heavier stress and load on the motors and batteries and you’re flight time will most likely be adversely affected. That being said, we are working on solutions to maintain a steady image so that wind will be less of a factor in getting those awesome shots everyone is looking to capture.

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  • The Pocket Drone is designed to be capable of carrying up a total of .5 pounds of payload (like an action camera setup). You might be able to carry slightly more, but we can’t guarantee or recommend it.

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  • We would like to offer an FPV kit and/or FPV integrated version in the future. Unfortunately, we don't think we'll be able to get that done for the Kickstarter project timeline, but it's in our plans. We know it’s a big deal to see what the drone is seeing and we are working hard on an FPV solution for The Pocket Drone. When, it’s ready to go, you can be sure we’ll be announcing it on our website and Kickstarter page.

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  • The Android software works with any device that has GPS and that can support an OTG cable. You may have to gain root access to the device depending on which manufacturer it’s from. There are many phones that support OTG. We haven’t tested them all and cannot guarantee 100% that they will all work or provide enough power to run the telemetry dongle.

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  • We are working on an iOS solution but none is available at the moment. Since we want to work in long range and not rely on wifi, you'll need to use a radio dongle that plugs into your device. Keep checking our website periodically and we'll try to make something happen soon.

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  • If you already own a GoPro Hero, you'll be glad to know that we've got a GoPro compatible camera mount on the front of the drone. So you can use the camera you have already. The camera we are providing is an OEM action sports cam comparable to a GoPro in size, form factor and feature set. However, the GoPro is a more premium camera. You can use other cameras that weigh less than .5 pounds, although we have not been able to test every model. Cameras that are slightly heavier may also work, but will likely degrade the performance characteristics of the drone.

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  • The bind and fly version has a DSM2 compatible radio receiver built in so you should be able to use a variety of 3rd party transmitters to control it. For the Ready-to-fly (RTF) models, we are looking at DSM2 and other control standards to get the best value and performance.

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  • Provided you get permission to film the event, you should be able to get lots of really great coverage. We would recommend getting several extra batteries and practice very hard and always use best safe practices. Nobody wants bad publicity or being banned from using them in public.

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  • Currently, the follow me mode is good for flatter open areas with few obstacles. It will stay a set distance behind and above you (using the GPS on the drone and your mobile device). We are working on technologies that will enable our flying robots to do obstacle avoidance and machine learning, but those will not be available in version one of the product.

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    A set of our exclusive propellers [EARLY BIRD]: 4x optimized collapsible propellers: Our revolutionary and proprietary collapsible propellers make it easier and safer to transport any multirotor vehicle. You'll be rewarded with a full set for up to a quad (2xCW and 2xCCW). These will fit on most motors with the included propeller adapter for either a 3mm, 3.17mm or 4mm motor shafts. We highly recommend upgrading to The Pocket Drone for the full experience.

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    A set of our exclusive propellers: 4x optimized collapsible propellers: Our revolutionary and proprietary collapsible propellers make it easier and safer to transport any multirotor vehicle. You'll be rewarded with a full set for up to a quad (2xCW and 2xCCW). These will fit on most motors with the included propeller adapter for either a 3mm, 3.17mm or 4mm motor shafts. We highly recommend upgrading to The Pocket Drone for the full experience.

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    Bind and Fly Package [Early Bird]: For experienced flyers who want to bring their own controller - 1x Ready to Fly Pocket Drone, 1x Pocket Drone Light Neoprene Case, 1x Lipo Battery Pack, 1x Lipo Battery Charger, 1x DSM2 compatible receiver, 1x 5.8Mhz telemetry with micro USB dongle, Requires your own DSM2 compatible transmitter

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    Bind and Fly Package: For experienced flyers who want to bring their own controller - 1x Ready to Fly Pocket Drone, 1x Pocket Drone Light Neoprene Case, 1x Lipo Battery Pack, 1x Lipo Battery Charger, 1x DSM2 compatible receiver, 1x 5.8Mhz telemetry with micro USB dongle, Requires your own DSM2 compatible transmitter

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    International Bind and Fly Package: (Select this option for international shipping) For experienced flyers who want to bring their own controller - 1x Ready to Fly Pocket Drone, 1x Pocket Drone Light Neoprene Case, 1x Lipo Battery Pack, 1x Lipo Battery Charger, 1x DSM2 compatible receiver, 1x telemetry with micro USB dongle, Requires your own DSM2 compatible transmitter. Please note that for international shipping you will be responsible for paying local taxes in your country upon receipt. Exact taxes will vary by locality.

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    Ready to Fly Package [Early Bird]: Includes everything you need to operate your own drone. Best option for most people - 1x Six Channel Radio Controller, 1x Everything From Bind and Fly package

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    Ready to Fly Package: Includes everything you need to operate your own drone. Best option for most people - 1x Six Channel Radio Controller, 1x Everything From Bind and Fly package

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    International Ready to Fly Package: (select this option for international shipping) Includes everything you need to operate your own drone. Best option for most people - 1x Six Channel Radio Controller, 1x Everything From Bind and Fly package. Please note that for international shipping you will be responsible for paying local taxes in your country upon receipt. Exact taxes will vary by locality.

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    Aerial Video/Photo Package [Early Bird]: For those who want everything they need to start taking videos and photos - 1x High quality action camera capable of recording 1080 HD video and drone mounts, 1x Everything From Ready to Fly Package

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    Aerial Video/Photo Package: For those who want everything they need to start taking videos and photos - 1x High quality action camera capable of recording 1080 HD video and drone mounts, 1x Everything From Ready to Fly Package

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    International Aerial Video/Photo Package: (select this option for international shipping) For those who want everything they need to start taking videos and photos - 1x High quality action camera capable of recording 1080 HD video and drone mounts, 1x Everything From Ready to Fly Package. Please note that for international shipping you will be responsible for paying local taxes in your country upon receipt. Exact taxes will vary by locality.

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Funding period

- (60 days)