SwiftBot WP: a rugged, modular, and waterproof quadcopter project video thumbnail
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$746 pledged of $10,000 goal
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By Submerse, Inc.
$746 pledged of $10,000 goal
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About this project

The SwiftBot is a robotic Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that is modular, rugged, upgradeable, and features Arduino based open source hardware and software. While we’ve made the SwiftBot water-resistant, our next task is to make it waterproof.  We want to be able to safely land on the surface of the ocean, or navigate over a reef while transmitting live underwater video.  Our goal is to accomplish this completely autonomously: take off from the beach, see live video, and return home, all without pilot intervention!

The SwiftBot uses 3D printed parts: the fuselage, electronics enclosures, and camera anti-vibration mount are all printed.  3D parts make our quadcopter unique: it’s infinitely customizable.  Our 3D parts library allows users to pick and choose how they’d like to personalize their SwiftBot.

We have chosen to use open source software, hardware, and design, to make it easy for DIY’ers, Makers, roboticists, researchers and multirotor enthusiasts to partner with us to develop, improve, and expand the applications for these amazing new robotic devices.

The SwiftBot 

The SwiftBot has a 450mm wheelbase that incorporates ultra-high strength plastic motor arms, and a high-strength PCB-material hub. This forms a lightweight and strong quadcopter with plenty of substrate for electronics and batteries. It comes with 3D printed electronics enclosures, and is a Ready To Fly (RTF) system.

  • The system includes four powerful electric motors and 10” propellers which allow you to easily carry a small camera.  
  • With 30A Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs) for the motors to draw from, and a high-discharge-rate LiPo battery pack, there’s ample power available for extreme maneuvering and aerial acrobatics.
  • The SwiftBot utilizes open-source flight controller hardware and software. Improvements to the firmware, software, and hardware are all happening continuously. We use open source flight controllers to allow for greater extensibility; you can customize your system to add sensors, lights, alarms, retractable landing gear, camera gimbals, and more.
  • The designs for SwiftBot 3D printed parts and enclosures are also open-source. They can be downloaded, modified, and shared with the rest of the SwiftBot community. You can customize our designs to add different canopies, enclosures, and antennae
  • The SwiftBot can be used for entertainment, aerial photography, and to carry a First Person Viewer (FPV) camera and radio for a real-time birds-eye-view from your quadcopter.  The system comes with anti-vibration mounts for both the flight controller and camera, improving video quality and providing for super-smooth, easily controlled flight.

 SwiftBot Feature Summary

 • 3D Printed Parts: A rugged 3D printed fuselage and ESC enclosures allow for easy handling, better electronics protection, water-resistance, better flight performance, and better aesthetics. Key electronics (flight controller, power electronics, radios, telemetry electronics, and antennae) are protected, vibration damped for smooth flight, and all integrated into the same fuselage to create a modular unit that’s easy to service and recalibrate.

Quickly Evolving Design: We can quickly modify designs to accommodate new flight controllers, batteries, motor mounts, ESCs, landing gear, camera gimbals, and other accessories. Our 3D printable multirotor parts library for the SwiftBot is constantly growing. 

Custom Design: You can custom design your SwiftBot multirotor parts: pick almost any color, from a wide variety of materials. Select from a number of existing SwiftBot designs, or customize your own parts with logos, text, or unique features.

Water-Resistant Enclosures: Our system is designed with water resistant 3D printed enclosures. By using these enclosures, the ESC’s, power electronics, radios, and flight controller become splash proof. 

Quad to Hex Upgradability: Learn how to fly using our trainer SwiftBot quadcopter, and upgrade quickly and easily to our hexcopter system to carry heavier cameras and equipment. 

Modularity: Our system has modular arms so that you can replace the entire assembly (the motor, propeller, ESC and cover, and pre-wired harnessing) quickly and easily, even in the field. A day’s work or play isn’t interrupted.

Rugged Design: We have designed our system to be rugged. Learning to fly a multirotor is a process. We give our customers the benefit of a system that can be quickly and easily fixed if a crash occurs. 

Go Pro Anti-Vibration Mount: The SwiftBot comes with an anti-vibration GoPro camera mount so you’ll be able to get some top quality video right away. 

Santa Barbara, California, from the air
Santa Barbara, California, from the air

The Applications Are Endless: 

There are thousands of applications for this new technology. People want to track whales, take water samples, film surfing, etc.. You name it, and you can do it with the SwiftBot.

Here are a few of the applications: 

Researchers and Scientists: People in the scientific community can use the SwiftBot to monitor the ocean, rivers and other water environments in a myriad of ways.

Environmentalists: People interested in protecting and monitoring the environment can use the SwiftBot to compile data, take pictures, and even collect physical samples. Flight over the water will be practical, and tasks that were difficult or impossible will be able to be completed without great expense.

Cinematographers and Photographers: The SwiftBot is designed to carry a Go Pro camera mount, and can be reconfigured to carry larger cameras and camera gimbals. With our upgradable system, customers can quickly move from a quad to a hex, add fixed and brushless gimbals, FPV equipment, and more. Shots of the ocean, sea life, and surfing will be practical and easy to get, at a fraction of the cost.

Isla Vista, California.  Taken by a SwiftBot, June 2013
Isla Vista, California. Taken by a SwiftBot, June 2013

Enthusiasts: This product is designed for use by anyone. We’ve made the SwiftBot easy to operate so our customers can quickly learn how to fly manually. However, it is a UAV, and will take off and land automatically, and this presents a whole new layer of complexity; planning is required for missions. Here is where we feel the ‘robotic world’ is rapidly merging with the ‘RC world’, offering many more applications, and transforming a hobby device into a practical robotic tool available to new and experienced pilots alike.

The Next Step for the SwiftBot: 

If we meet our goal we want to: 

Create injection molds of key parts. We want to make a polycarbonate fuselage (a clamshell enclosure), similar to those used for waterproof cameras, so that we can have an entirely waterproof multirotor. The SwiftBot uses 3D printed parts that are porous, and although through secondary processes we use we are easily able to make it water-resistant (Ingress Protection rating IP67), this device is not waterproof. We want to make a fully waterproof device that can perform autonomous takeoff and landing from the ocean surface.

Conduct further research, engineering and development of our waterproof UAV systems, software development of simplified flight planner interface for iPad. 

If we exceed our goal we want to:

Design a system capable of landing on a floating platform, automatically

Develop a docking station: a floating landing pad, solar panels, battery charger, batteries, and automatic battery exchanger.

Test safety features: the addition of airbags, a parachute, collision avoidance sensors and software. 

We see a future in which the SwiftBot will become a true robotic device. It will change its own batteries, perform pick and place functions, and be capable of many practical tasks. We want to partner with the rest of the community to shape this reality.

3D Printed Parts Are Essential

There are many reasons we decided to use 3D printers not only to make parts, but as part of our design process. 

Here are a few: 

  • We can design a prototype, print it, fit check it, test it, fly it, and redesign it – all in one day, and sometimes less.
  • We can involve everyone in the development process by using open source design, coupled with the use of 3D printers. The SwiftBot community will be able to support rapid development of new SwiftBot features to accommodate, integrate, and accelerate the thousands of applications awaiting this technology.  With an ever-increasing number of personal 3D printers available, printing and testing new SwiftBot designs can happen faster than ever before.
  • The SwiftBot can be continuously improved and changed. Our multi-rotor is ready and able to integrate new mechanical designs, the newest open source flight controller systems, new sensors, mechanisms, actuators, and robotic end-effectors.

Modularity Revolutionizes the Multirotor

We wanted first and foremost to make the SwiftBot a quadcopter that everyone can use by making it easy to fly and maintain. For this reason, we have decided on a design that is modular.

Modularity allows users to quickly assemble their multirotor, repair it, maintain it, and even upgrade it from a quad to a hex. The arm modules come with motors, Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs), ESC enclosures, and prewired harnessing: they’re ready to go. We manufacture these modules using top quality components, and proven manufacturing processes. Our arm modules are fully assembled and tested, and ready to be flown.

Because it’s a complete system, users can quickly go from first flight to fully automated flight – it’s perfect for new and advanced users alike: those who are learning to fly, and may hit a few bumps along the way, or for those advanced users who want to use multirotors to explore hard to reach areas, like the ocean.

Our flight controller features:

Upgradable firmware, ground station software and electronics. This makes it easy to update your hardware and software to reflect new improvements and even new features.

There are multiple ways to program and fly the SwiftBot using a radio controller, computer and joystick, or phone or tablet for point and click navigation.

Mission planning and analysis software that runs on Windows, Android, and Linux. Point and click programming and configuration.

Auto takeoff and landing. As a fully functional UAV, the system can take off automatically, fly a preprogrammed route, and land automatically, all without touching a radio controller.

Why We Need Your Support 

We’ve designed the SwiftBot using 3D-printers to create a device that is water resistant. We are ready to take the next step and make the SwiftBot waterproof. To do this, we will use high quality parts, and proven manufacturing engineering processes.

This transformation will require research and development, the injection molding of key SwiftBot enclosure parts, and tooling up for assembly and testing.

We’d like to enlist the help of Kickstarter because we believe this is a project worthy of support: the SwiftBot is a device able to be used by anyone, and its applications can benefit everyone. This is an exciting and growing technology. By using all open source hardware, software, and design we want everyone to be involved in its continued development.

What We Want to Do With Your Support:

We plan to purchase injection molds for the SwiftBot WP fuselage and other electronics enclosures. We’ll also continue to conduct research and development: 

• Benefits to our customer: a waterproof (IP68) quadcopter that can safely go where no quadcopter has gone before.

• High quality, durable, lightweight, and low cost quadcopter system. With 3D printed parts accommodated by design, hardware upgrades are also available.

• A safer and more reliable system 

• Customer Support

We have a dream of using the SwiftBot to get water samples and track whales. We envision being able to land and take off from the water, and having robotic mechanisms that can take water samples, lower hydrophones, and change batteries.

We’ve experimented with waterproofing our SwiftBot using conformal coatings and service-removable potting compounds, and we want to take the next steps and finalize the designs, manufacturing, and production processes so that we can make the SwiftBot WP entirely waterproof.

We’re going to be able to fly over water, land, and even snorkel around!

We have both immediate and stretch goals:

With $10,000, we’ll conduct research and development. 

With $25,000, we’ll design a system capable of landing on a floating platform, automatically. We’ll ramp up production of the SwiftBot WP. 

With $100,000, Researching, developing, and testing a completely autonomous aerial-robotic platform.

With $500,000-$1,000,000  We’ve already seen what these UAVs can do, including carrying water and medicine to someone in need, agricultural applications, and package delivery. Our special interest is in the ocean, and in particular, producing an environmental tool that allows us to explore and protect our marine environments.  However, our multirotors will be built to the highest standards, using the highest quality parts, and will include safety features.

This is a very exciting time for us, we have so much to do and so little time to do it in, we need your help. With your support, we hope to kick start this process!

Why the SwiftBot was Created:

We see a future in which multi-rotors will affect every industry. 

• They will be programmed to perform a pick and place job as long as they have power to do so. A robot can do this job infinitely and tirelessly. 

• They will change their own batteries. By definition, to be a true robot, the device has to manage its own power.

Andrew, and the Submerse team are ready to get started!

Picture Your Rewards

Submerse T-Shirt
Submerse T-Shirt
Submerse Logo Hat
Submerse Logo Hat
uSwiftBot.  Entirely 3-D printed airframe, a 1/4-scale model of the SwiftBot, Controller with 6-axis IMU and built-in Spektrum compatible reciever, 150mA battery and USB charger
uSwiftBot. Entirely 3-D printed airframe, a 1/4-scale model of the SwiftBot, Controller with 6-axis IMU and built-in Spektrum compatible reciever, 150mA battery and USB charger

Risks and challenges

We're confident we'll be able to produce a quality product, and deliver it on time.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A personal thank you and an invitation to join the SwiftBot community.

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    Pledge $19 or more About $19

    An invitation to join the SwiftBot community, and a LiPo battery to USB charger*. Charge your phone, tablet, or camera using your SwiftBot battery. *LiPo battery not included , XT60 style connector.

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    Pledge $29 or more About $29

    A Submerse t-shirt with a cool design, and an invitation to join the SwiftBot community.

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    Pledge $99 or more About $99

    uSwiftBot 3D-printed quadcopter. 100mm wheelbase, DSM2 radio compatible. Flies for 5-8 minutes on a 40 minute charge.

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    Pledge $199 or more About $199

    Membership, and early access to the SwiftBot 3D-printed parts library. A Submerse hat, and a SwiftBot 3D printed fuselage in a custom color (compatible with SwiftBot quadcopter).

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Funding period

- (40 days)