About this project
At DroneRafts, we have developed an accessory for the DJI Phantom 4 and Phantom 3 quadcopter. Like all-terrain suspension for your drone, WaterStrider enables perfect footage and fearless landings—anywhere.
Water strider insects glide naturally over water, inspiring the function and design of the WaterStrider, our patent-pending landing gear. It is elegantly designed to maximize flight performance, landing stability, buoyancy on water, and is ruggedly engineered and tested. With the funding from this campaign, our plan is to go into full production and share this amazing product, allowing you to #DroneAnywhere.
We originally envisioned an accessory which allows drones to land on water. The more we flew the prototypes, the more benefits we discovered: added stability, visibility, and undaunted landings. And we've only scratched the surface. Already we have received ideas for other innovative ways to use WaterStrider.
Did you ever find the perfect spot to capture some amazing aerial footage with your drone, only to find that there is no good place to take off and land? Maybe you've tried the dangerous practice of hand-catching and hand-launching your drone, or maybe you just didn’t get the shot. Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful places to film have the worst options for takeoff and landing.
With WaterStrider, landings on almost any surface are worry-free, allowing you to focus on getting the perfect shot.
Our Commitment and Guarantee
We are committed to the WaterStrider as well as the experience of our customers using it. We're happy to offer the following guarantee to the backers of this campaign.
We've considered every possible design detail we could manage. Before starting our design work, we developed a thorough product requirements document. For each requirement, we also developed a plan for testing it to be sure it would work as expected. We're proud to say that WaterStrider now meets or exceeds these requirements.
Some of the best design elements that came from this process are highlighted in the animation and further discussion below.
Another key design feature is the ability to get clear footage without any obstructions in the camera's Field Of View (FOV). In fact, most of the campaign video footage was filmed using two WaterStrider equipped drones.
The WaterStrider is designed to be extremely durable. Of course we did some initial rapid prototyping and proof of concept work using 3D printing. However, 3D printed parts are definitely not strong enough to meet our requirements to provide long-term durability (with sun and water exposure), remain lightweight, and permit freedom to land anywhere without worry.
Our parts are fully engineered from the ground up and use carbon fiber as well as injection molded and thermoformed high impact plastics. The WaterStrider is designed to protect the drone by absorbing the maximum descent velocity impact of the Phantom on any terrain, including water, with no damage. A 3D printed version of comparable weight to our final solution only survived about 33% of the requirement. The production WaterStrider meets the full 100% and more. We've tested the design to prove it.
One of the common questions we receive is: How does WaterStrider affect the drone handling and performance in windy conditions. The video below shows how the WaterStrider handles very windy and gusty conditions on both the Phantom 3 and Phantom 4.
Design & Development
After doing some research and analysis of the rapidly expanding drone industry, we looked to users for their stories, and we heard you: "We want easier, safer landings—anywhere." So we set out to develop a solution for every possible earthly terrain.
We knew we had a ton of considerations: weight, balance, buoyancy, durability, aerodynamics, hard landings, and compatibility with the camera and sensors. What materials would look good and provide the kind of features we need? How can we keep the cost low? How will the finished product connect to the drone?
As soon as we had a good concept, we started prototyping in earnest. It turns out that we changed almost every design feature as a result of several rounds of testing. With each prototype, the product got better and better. Like a good songwriter or artist, we know that at some point, it's time to put the pencil down. The resulting WaterStrider is a light, lean, production-ready reality.
The animation below shows a cost breakdown for the first year of production.
All of our backer rewards include access to our project updates and a big Thank You for supporting our project.
Meet Our Experienced Team
DroneRafts next steps...
We're not planning on being a one-hit wonder. The DroneRafts team already has plans to continue to deliver solutions to the unmanned vehicle market, across various industries and applications.
For this WaterStrider launch, we plan to refine our manufacturing and production methods based on the demand we see from this campaign. Join our community TODAY and have a say in our next accessory launch and our future product lines!
Please note that DroneRafts LLC is not affiliated with DJI or the DJI Phantom. All company and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
Risks and challenges
We've worked hard to try and minimize the risks associated with our first Kickstarter project. Based on the design, analysis, and testing already performed, as well as our engineering backgrounds, the technical risks are very low. Most of the risks will be associated with production. Here are some of the steps that we've already taken to minimize potential problems:
• We already have a facility for production.
• We are only sourcing supplies from established companies within the US, so we don't have to deal with importing parts.
• With the exception of the injection-molded part, we have identified at least two sources for each part that we use in case one runs out of stock, or for any other hiccups. Injection molding tooling is very expensive and generally works with only one manufacturer. For this part, we are using a source that we have found consistently reliable on other projects. In addition, we have talked with other companies that use this same supplier to verify our own experience.
• We are limiting the number of assembled products that we will deliver each month to less than half of what we believe we can actually deliver. This will give us time to fix any unexpected issues and, if things go well, even deliver them early.
• Because we believe the risk to be fairly low, we have already personally invested in building and buying all of the other specialty manufacturing equipment and tooling necessary for delivering WaterStrider across the globe.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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