Fleye is a spherical robot that you can hold, touch, push and bump without any risks of injuring yourself and others.
While many quadcopters these days all share a common resemblance, one Belgian startup is looking to change things up a bit. Fleye, which is being billed as the world’s safest drone, is a spherical flying machine with enclosed propellers and a camera.
Since its blades are covered inside plastic protective grids, you can touch it, push it or bump into it without losing a finger. The soccer ball-like drone can be controlled via its accompanying mobile app with four flying modes: selfie, panorama, hover and manual.
In selfie mode, Fleye will record 1080p video (30 fps) as it comes back towards you. In panorama mode, the machine goes up to a set altitude, and rotates on itself to capture a 360° view. And as you would expect in hover mode, the gadget provides three-inch precision (when in range of sensors) so you can focus simply on altitude and viewing angle.
What’s more, manual mode allows you to program your own route using either its virtual touchpad or Bluetooth game controller. Or, you can even add your own RC receiver to Fleye.
At the heart of the device lies a Linux-powered, dual-core ARM A9 CPU with 512MB of RAM, as well as a pair of GPUs. A special and a bit more expensive developer edition will be available with a quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM, too.
It also supports the popular Computer Vision library OpenCV, which enables Fleye to execute missions autonomously, reacting to what it sees in its environment. In other words, it can recognize and avoid obstacles that it may encounter as it soars through the sky.
With its open API and SDK, you can program Fleye to do any number of additional tasks. This means developers can write their own custom apps to control it remotely or run directly on its on-board computer.
Measuring just nine inches and weighing no more than a pound, Fleye boasts 10 minutes of flight time with a max speed of 10 mph thanks to its 1500mAh battery. The spherical bot is equipped with an accelerometer, a gyrometer and a magnetometer, along with a pressure-based altimeter, a GPS module and sonar that can measure ground distances at up to 10 feet. Plus, there’s a bottom camera for optical flow tracking.
Sound like the next-gen drone you’ve been looking for? Fly over to its Kickstarter campaign, where the Belgian team is seeking $185,837. Delivery is expected to get underway in September 2016.