About this project
The classic drone design has many shortcomings; Fleye has gone back to the drawing board to imagine the future of autonomous flying robots. The resulting product is safer, more robust and easier to use.
What would a drone from the future look like? At Fleye, we dream of small, autonomous, flying machines floating around us and helping us in our daily lives. The kind of flying robot we were dreaming about as children when reading Sci-Fi comic books.
Not satisfied with current drone design, we went back to the drawing board and have invented a spherical flying machine that is safe, simple to use and autonomous.
We've also made Fleye open and programmable. Its API and SDK make it a great development platform for anyone willing to explore the future of flying robotics and its potential applications.
World Safest Drone
The main innovation of Fleye is its unique spherical design, where all moving parts are fully shielded. This means that you can hold, touch, push, and bump into Fleye without any risks of injuring yourself and others. It also means that Fleye will be more robust when bumping into something.
Simple and fun to use
Fleye can be controlled using our smartphone application (iOS/Android support). You don't need piloting skills, just select a flying camera mode (selfie, panorama, virtual tripod, etc.), watch the live video stream and focus on capturing great photos and videos. You prefer to be in manual control? Then use our virtual gamepad or hook a bluetooth gamepad to your smartphone.
Smart and Autonomous
Fleye has a powerful on-board computer, similar to the latest smartphones. It is a dual-core ARM A9, with hardware accelerated video encoding, two GPUs, 512MB of RAM and it runs Linux. It also supports the popular Computer Vision library OpenCV. This means that Fleye can be programmed to execute mission autonomously, reacting to what it sees in its environment.
No piloting skills required ! Fleye is really easy to use and control, using just a smartphone (iOS/android supported). Thanks to its powerful on-board computer, Fleye is capable of executing autonomous missions for you:
- Selfie: backs up to a given distance, and captures a video while flying smoothly back towards you.
- Panorama: goes to a given altitude, and rotates on itself to capture a 360° panorama.
- Hover: hovers in place with 10cm precision (when in range of sensors) so you can focus simply on altitude and viewing angle.
- Manual: it is of course possible to fly manually, either with the virtual touch-gamepad or a bluetooth game controller. You can also add your own RC receiver to Fleye.
Since Fleye is an open platform, we welcome developers creating other applications to support specific use cases: planning a cinematic path, playing a game, tracking tags, etc. You will be able to discover and download these new application from our marketplace.
Fleye is more than a drone. Thanks to its on-board computer, and two open APIs, it is a real flying robot, that can be programmed to perform fully autonomous tasks.
Programmable flying robot
A machine becomes a robot when it is capable of observing its environment and taking autonomous decision based on what it sees. This is exactly what you can do with Fleye.
You can write on-board application that leverage the camera feed, perform computer vision tasks and control the drone based on the content of the image. Fleye runs Linux and support OpenCV, a popular computer vision library. Complex tasks can be accelerated thanks to a GPU supporting OpenGL and OpenCL.
Remote API and SDKs
Fleye can be controlled remotely through its WiFi connection using a JSON-over-UDP API. This means that any device capable of sending messages to Fleye can act as a controller: a smartphone, but also a laptop computer or other connected objects.
Our API hasn't reached version 1.0 yet and is in active development. We count on our backers to help us improve it, providing feedback to better suit their needs. In addition to the open API, we do plan to provide various SDKs to make it easy to work with Fleye.
- Android SDK
- iOS SDK
- Nodejs and/or Python SDK
On-board application development
Fleye is a Linux machine (Yocto based). You can access it over SSH and deploy your own applications directly on Fleye. This means that Fleye can be fully autonomous, performing computer vision on the main camera feed, reacting to sensor measurements and taking actions based on its environment.
A low-level API is provided to connect your application to the auto-pilot, instructing the robot to take-off, move, go to a location, land, etc. The video pipeline is managed by GStreamer and you can easily integrate your custom OpenCV plugins within.
Fleye Power Edition
The standard edition of Fleye comes with a dual-core computer and 512MB of RAM. It is more than enough to use the smartphone application and develop some simple programs. For those who really want to maximize power, we offer a special Developer Edition reward that comes with a Quad-Core computer and 1GB of RAM.
We haven't developed Fleye with one particular use-case in mind. Instead, we have made it a very versatile and open platform, to enable developers and entrepreneurs to explore new use cases, using a drone that is safe for people and its environment. Yet, here are the five use cases we believe Fleye could be the best for.
- Take awesome photos and videos: Fleye is especially well suited for indoor photo and video, close to people. Sports arena, concerts halls, architectural , courtyards, etc.
- Have fun piloting Fleye: Fleye is a one-of-a-kind flying machine, that is a lot of fun to pilot.
- Develop drone applications: Fleye is a platform on which you can build useful drone applications, supporting new business cases, such as: indoor inspection, surveillance, cartography, data collection, games, etc.
- Marketing & Events: You can add branding to Fleye body shell, and use it to woaw the audience at your next event.
- Education and Research: Need a safe drone to teach about flying robotics and play with robots in the lab? Fleye is ready to fly and a great platform for education as well as research on drones and control systems.
Fleye is a completely new take on the drone design. It is based on the "ducted fan UAV" concept, used in larger industrial/defense drones. The challenge was to shrink this technology and wrap it inside a protective shell. This work is the result of 18 months of research and development, and is now being protected by a patent.
We have been actively documenting our progress on our blog, and posting numerous videos, as well as doing demonstrations in various public events. We invite you to explore our website and social media accounts if you want to learn more.
- Size: a sphere of Ø23cm (Ø 9'')
- Total weight: 450g (16oz)
- Generic 3S 1500mAh LiPo battery with XT60 connector
- 10 minutes flight time
- +/-10cm (3'') hovering precision
- 15km/h (10mp/h) maximum speed
- 8km/h (5 mp/h) wind tolerance
- 3-axis accelero, gyro and magnetometer
- Pressure based altimeter
- Sonar - Measure ground distance up to 3 meters (10')
- Bottom camera for optical flow tracking
- Dual or Quad-core ARM A9 800Mhz CPU3
- Hardware video encoding - 1080p 30fps
- GPU supporting OpenGL and OpenCL
- 512 or 1024MB RAM
- Yocto Linux
- USB and serial extension port
- WiFi (100m range)
- micro SD-card slot
- 5mpx Omnivision 5640 sensor
- 160° FOV lens
- 1080p 30fps video
- 720p H264 RTSP low-latency preview
- 1080p MP4 stored on SD card
Fleye was founded by Laurent and Dimitri, two engineers with a passion for robotics and flying machines. Both have 15 years of experience in their respective domain ranging from aeronautics, control systems to software development.
Next to them, they have brought together a team of freelancers and experts to help on tasks such as industrial design, electronics, embedded and mobile development.
Fleye is financed by The Faktory, a private Tech Startup Accelerator and Seed Investment Fund, and been awarded public subsidies.
The following is our current project timeline. We know that building a hardware product is hard (see Risks below) and that we may face unforeseen events that are going to delay us. Our pledge to you is to always remain transparent on our status and potential delays, informing you with at least one update per month on Kickstarter.
We have now reached the stage of a complete functional prototype. We have a great flying platform, an on-board computer, a full-hd camera module, and a first version of the mobile application with live streaming video.
The next step is to move to mass production, being capable of producing many units, with all the same level of quality. This requires important investment, to create molds, prepare assembly and test bench, and secure components which usually have large MOQ (Minimum Order Quantities). The pre-orders secured here will help us go through this first stage, but that's not all.
By pledging on kickstarter, you are showing us that you share our vision and enthousiasm for this flying robot. You will participate in the development of this product, give your feedback and suggestions on this version and, for the most daring ones, develop applications leveraging our APIs and SDK.
We invite you to take-off with us as cabin crew for this fantastic journey, building the future of flying robots !
Laurent & Dimitri
Risks and challenges
The risk linked to our project are similar to risks you would find in any complex hardware project, and in particular those building flying machines.
As demonstrated in our video, and at multiple public events over the lasts months, we do have a complete functional prototype. The challenge is to scale from one unit to thousands, while maintaining the level of quality and reliability.
In particular, we identify the following challenges:
- All prototypes have been made using 3D printing and CNC technologies but switching to mold injected parts is required for mass production. We have anticipated all known challenges and designed our parts for injection, but only when we have the first injected parts will we know for sure that they match our requirements in terms of weight and strength. Failing on this would mean a delay while we solve the issue.
- We are ordering our components from trusted suppliers, with clear lead times and commitments on availability. Some issues could happen on their end, leading to delays beyond our control.
- We have already tested Fleye in a dozen location, for complete days, clocking almost an hour of flight time per day. This continuous testing is helping us uncover issue and solve them, making Fleye more robust. Yet, this is nothing compared to the many places around the world where you'll be flying. We'll be listening to your feedback, collecting your issues, and providing software updates to maximize robustness. We also plan to run a beta test as soon as we have the first pre-series, to keep on improving the platform.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (43 days)