Category Archives: Drones

ONAGOfly is an auto-following, palm-sized drone

This drone proves big things can come in small packages. 

In today’s market, consumers have pretty much two choices: cheaper nano drones or larger, pricier quadcopters. ONAGOfly wants to be the best of both worlds. Not only does it let users capture high-res selfies and live-stream footage to their mobile devices, the palm-sized unit only costs $200.


This consumer-friendly drone boasts a safe design, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, and can be piloted right out of the box. It can be set to automatically follow you, or you can use its accompanying app to control the drone via Wi-Fi (up to a distance of 66 feet).

With its video game-inspired tilt control mode, ONAGOfly can be steered simply by turning its paired smartphone left and right, or up and down to fly higher and lower. Meanwhile, photos and videos can seamlessly sync to a user’s handheld gadget for instant sharing.


ONAGOfly can take off and land right from your hand, and be launched with the press of a button. The tiny UAV features built-in infrared sensors on all four sides, allowing it to avoid any potential collisions with obstacles in its way. Additionally, ONAGOfly’s GPS module enables it to automatically follow someone using the location of its connected smartphone as they run, snowboard, cycle, surf or whatever else.

According to company founder Sam Tsu, the mini ‘copter can be used by everyone of all ages and experience levels. This includes athletes, travelers, wedding planners and other drone enthusiasts.

In terms of its camera, ONAGOfly’s images and videos are being touted as comparable to that of an iPhone 6 (15MP photo and 1080P HD at 30fps video). With P2P streaming, users can watch footage in real-time from a remote device without delay. To maximize group photos, the drone can even recognize faces and detect smiles once all subjects are in the frame, and then snap the picture.


Thanks to a 1000mAh LiPo battery, users can expect around 12-15 minutes of flight time. The ONAGOfly weighs only 140 grams (0.3 pounds), and can reportedly maintain its position in wind speeds of up to 10.8 feet per second.

Interested? Head on over to ONAGOfly’s Indiegogo campaign, where the nano drone’s creators have already flown right by their goal of $150,000. Delivery is slated for February 2016.

Fleye wants to be the world’s safest drone

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.

Maker converts his TIE Fighter toy into a flying drone

Can you ever get sick of Star Wars projects? Didn’t think so.

Just in time for December 18th’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one Maker has successfully converted his Hasbro First Order TIE Fighter into a fully-functional, flying quadcopter.


Impressively, Imgur user “woodpiece” was able to accomplish this feat with only a few tweaks. The Star Wars enthusiast threw a couple of rotor arms onto the toy and cut out a slot on the radiator for the propellors. The rest of the modification process involved disassembling the device and installing a quad motor attached to 3D-printed mounts. The Maker glued the wings to the main body, while ensuring that all the wires remained inside the frame through its existing holes.


All the electronics were able to fit comfortably, with no additional cosmetic enhancements necessary. The brains of the operation is a Flip MWC Flight 1.5 Controller (ATmega328) which sits at the base of the cockpit, along with the motor controllers and battery.

As awesome as this all may sound, you have to see it in all its glory as it soars through the sky. The end result was a remote-controlled unit with rotors on both front and back of the wing panels. You can find a step-by-step breakdown of the Maker’s build here.

[h/t Daily Dot via Toyland]

Parrot unveils the Bebop 2 drone

Parrot’s new Bebop 2 drone boasts longer battery life and up to 25 minutes in the sky. 

Last year, Parrot launched the Bebop Drone. This low-cost device features a 180-degree 14MP camera, four three-blade propellers and the capability of streaming video footage to a smartphone or tablet. Plus, a ‘return home’ function enables the drone to easily head back to its takeoff point with the help of its built-in GPS system.


The original Bebop is able to remain in the air for 12 minutes on a single charge, which is pretty darn good considering the fact that it weighs 400g. However, Parrot has taken their game to new heights by unveiling the next generation of the ‘copter, which promises to double the flight time and enhance performance with more thrust and speed. Most notably, the aptly named Bebop 2 can soar through the sky for 25 minutes.

The recently-revealed drone is expected to cost $550 and is more of a consumer gadget than toy, Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux says. Not unlike its predecessor, it relies on GPS, proximity sensors and cameras to hover in place when you take your hands off the controls, regardless of where you are. The Bebop 2 will also maintain its compact, robust and lightweight frame, weighing in at just 500g.

What’s more, the drone can be piloted over Wi-Fi using its accompanying mobile app, and is compatible with the XMEGA32 powered Skycontroller which is an optional standalone remote that extends flight range up to 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).

The unit’s lithium battery has been upsized from 1,200mAh to 2,700mAh, which boosted its flight time from 11 to 25 minutes. Not only can it stay in the sky longer, the latest model can fly faster achieving a top speed of 37 mph horizontally (up from the Bebop’s 24 mph) and 13 mph vertically. In order make up for the weight differential of a larger battery, Parrot has extended the diameter of its three-blade propellers from 5.5” to 6″ in diameter.


Similar to is earlier version, the Bebop 2 still boasts a 14-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens, as well as a 180-degree field of view and 1080p video recording support. Another basic spec worth mentioning is 8GB storage space for holding your video content.

When you’re done, simply press the “landing” button and the Bebop 2 will automatically come down, despite its altitude. And thanks to its autopilot system, the drone will be relatively easy to maneuver in less-than-ideal conditions. But that’s not all. An improved propeller system will autonomously turn off if and when it comes in contact with an obstacle.

With an incredible flight time, expect hobbyists, photographers and videographers looking to get their hands on this bad boy. Want one for yourself this holiday season? You’re in luck. Bebop 2 drone will be available for purchase on December 14th. Until then, fly over to Parrot’s page for more.

[Images: Parrot]

Turning drones into a hologram you can physically touch

Queens University researchers developing a real-life AR system that will enable users to physically interact with data through different types of drones.

Get ready to file this recent project from researchers at Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab under the “What the…” category. That’s because the team is developing a human-computer interface that employs a swarm of tiny drones as flying pixels in an immersive 3D display. The hope is that BitDrones one day can revolutionize the way people interact with virtual reality. These itsy bitsy flying apparatuses will enable users to explore virtual 3D information by engaging with physical self-levitating building blocks. In other words, they’re turning drones into holograms that people can actually touch.


According to Queen’s professor Roel Vertegaal and his team, BitDrones will be the first step towards creating interactive self-levitating programmable matter — materials capable of changing their 3D shape in a programmable fashion — using swarms of nano quadcopters. The work highlights many possible applications for the new technology, including real-reality 3D modeling, gaming, molecular modeling, medical imaging, robotics and online information visualization.

“BitDrones brings flying programmable matter, such as featured in the futuristic Disney movie Big Hero 6, closer to reality. It is a first step towards allowing people to interact with virtual 3D objects as real physical objects,” Dr. Vertegaal explains.


The team has already built three types of BitDrones: First, PixelDrones are equipped with one LED and a small dot matrix display. Next, ShapeDrones are augmented with a lightweight mesh and a 3D-printed geometric frame and serve as building blocks for complex 3D models. Meanwhile, DisplayDrones are fitted with a curved flexible high resolution touchscreen, a forward-facing video camera and Android smartphone board. All three models have reflective markers, which allow them to be individually tracked and positioned in real-time via motion capture technology. The system can detect a user’s hand motion and touch, which lets them manipulate the pixels in midair as if they were standing inside a 3D display.

But that’s not all — it gets even cooler. Since the program that commands the drones knows where each drone is, it can tell when someone has moved the tiny drone around in space. So what can the technology be used for, you ask? Thus far, the team has been able to demonstrate using the system to browse through files by simply swiping drones left and right to show their contents. The operator of the drone was able to open an architectural drawing, and the ShapeDrones then formed the basic positioning of the building in 3D. From there, users can drag drones to adjust the orientation of the building, and even modify parameters of the ShapeDrone using the touchscreen.


Aside from that, the BitDrone platform can be used for telepresence by letting remote users move around locally through a DisplayDrone with Skype. In this scenario, the DisplayDrone can automatically track and replicate all of the remote user’s head movements, giving a remote person the ability to virtually inspect a location and make it easier for the local user to understand the other individual’s actions.

While the platform currently only supports a dozen of comparatively large 2.5” – 5” sized drones, the team at the Human Media Lab is working hard to scale BitDrones so that it could thousands of other ‘copters. These future flying machines would measure no more than a half inch in size, and provide users the opportunity to render more high-res, programmable holograms. More importantly, it opens the doors to countess new interactions. Until then, you can check out the project on its official page, or see it all in action below!

Will drones become the furniture of tomorrow?

L’evolved is a project that turns everyday objects into “flying smart agents.”

If it’s up to two researchers from MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group, the furniture of tomorrow will fly, react and respond to your everyday needs. In their latest project, Harshit Agrawal and Sang-Won Leigh are exploring how to transform once ordinary objects into “flying smart agents.”


For starters, L’evolved features a drone that acts as a floating desk capable of switching positions, changing heights and flying along as you move. It will even auto-eject if you try to use the wrong pen while completing an assignment or filling out paperwork, and leaves when you’re all done (or in need of a break after working too hard).

The MIT duo has also developed a smart lamp drone that hovers above you to let you read in the dark. By tracking and following its user, the gadget can impressively adapt to different places and postures. What’s more, it can help remotely locate a misplaced book with only a press of a button.

“We’re exploring a future where objects become more humanized, rather than becoming dumber or a dehumanized element of our existence. We want to see more of this inter-relational reaction between humans and objects so that they’re not just being subordinated by our orders,” Leigh recently told Motherboard. “If you think about it it’s really magical, it’s like the world that you imagine in the Harry Potter novels, where everything can fly and come to you.”


L’evolved consists of two parts: a ground control tower for tracking and fixing the drone’s position and an IR motion capture system. A camera helps keep tabs on everything in the room, including the user and the drone, which receives commands from the computer via Wi-Fi. PID control enables the flying agent to move towards a goal position and provides additional stability. Meanwhile, power is fed through a wall socket, though admittedly this is one aspect of the project that the Makers are looking to improve.

Agrawal reveals to Motherboard that in the future, the team hopes to optimize steadiness by replacing a hovering desk with one that parks in front of users whenever it’s needed and then clears itself off when the user has finished the task at hand.

“On the technological side, we hear a lot about dystopian future — drones always monitoring you and taking away people’s jobs. But, in an equally possible future, we seek a more desirable synergy between man and machine,” the Makers conclude. “L’evolved objects don’t entirely change the way we go about daily tasks: desks are still desks, lamps are still lamps. They don’t substitue or subordinate human activities.”

Intrigued? Head over to the L’evolved’s official page to learn more, and see it in action below!

FLYBi is an autonomous drone that gives you a firsthand flying experience

Ever wonder what it would be like to experience flying like a bird? Well, now you can with FLYBi’s innovative head-tracker goggles.

Operating a drone can be a daunting task for many folks, especially for novices looking to get started. Luckily, one Silicon Valley startup is hoping to ease the troubles by automating several aspects of the piloting process. The so-called FLYBi can easily take off, soar through the sky and land autonomously with barely any human intervention. What’s more, it can fly back to its home base and swap out its batteries when depleted.


FLYBi is equipped with many of the same features found in today’s more popular ‘copters, including a remote control, an accompanying app and a 12MP camera capable of recording 1080 HD video. However, that’s where all of the comparisons end, as its creators have specifically designed their system to take UAVs to new heights.

FLYBi’s camera is installed on a gimbal connected to a head-tracking unit which can be controlled using nothing more than the movement of your head. These head-tracker goggles offer an unparalleled bird’s-eye view of the UAV with a real-time video stream that’s sent to a pair of LCDs built inside the glasses. It should be noted, though, that FLYBi is limited to 55-degree rotation to keep you from getting disoriented.


What’s even cooler is that you can command FLYBi using a lightweight, water-resistant and adjustable wearable device. This wrist-worn controller consists of a small joystick and a set of buttons dedicated for taking off, hovering, snapping pictures and returning back to its Helideck base/landing. Plus, there’s a 1.8-inch display made of anti-glare glass that lets you watch your drone while in-flight.


As expected, flight range is limited when using its RC and video function. You can remotely control your drone from up to two or so miles, while streaming by phone and bracelet is limited to 2,000 feet and a mile, respectively. FLYBi connects its internal data storage to its cloud server via Wi-Fi when it lands. From there, you can modify and share them as you please.

Using its companion app, you can also configure your own flight path. Once set, the drone will follow your specified route, adjusting its course if and when it encounters an obstacle. From takeoff to landing, nearly everything about the drone can be performed automatically making it easy for new users to experience flying a UAV with little to no learning curve. Advanced users can disable the autonomous feature.


What’s more, FLYBi will return back to its base without your help. When docked, the Helideck rapidly charges the drone and even changes out its own batteries. Not just a landing platform, this unit serves as storage as well. Everything folds up nicely into one case, which can be thrown around your shoulders as a backpack.

Intrigued? Fly over to its Indiegogo campaign, where the FLYBi team is currently seeking $100,000. Delivery is slated for June 2016.