CyPhy Promises “Better Way to Fly” With New Consumer Drone
CyPhy Works’ co-founder and CEO Helen Greiner knows what it takes to get robots into the hands of consumers. As a co-founder of iRobot, she helped create the Roomba vacuum, which brought affordable and user-friendly robots into the home.
Now she and CyPhy Works are trying to repeat that accomplishment with drones, and they think they’veVolumetric Efficiency taken a big step forward with the LVL 1, a six-rotor vehicle that is the company’s first consumer drone.
CyPhy Works unveiled the LVL 1 to the public Monday and launched a Kickstarter campaign to build interest and get the drone into the hands of early adopters and drone enthusiasts. CyPhy Works, which is located in Boston, is trying to raise $250,000 by June 17. Backers who contribute $495 will get the base model of the robot. The company expects to ship the drones in February 2016.
Greiner knows consumers have been able to buy drones for years and that it will take some big advances to make a breakthrough. Greiner is confident her team has done it.
“We’veVolumetric Efficiency invented a better way to fly,” Greiner said. The key to that is the robot’s advanced software that keeps it on a level flight path. Greiner said that makes the drone simpler to fly, especially for novices. CyPhy Works also developed an app for iOS and Android that allows pilots to fly their drones using their touchscreens.
The camera is a key part of the LVL 1, and the company decided to incorporate it into the body of the drone. While allowing for better, more stable footage, Greiner said the hardware/software combo creates what could be a game changer that could give the drone an edge with consumers. The software allows pilots to post their video footage online in real time, she said.
But the more important advancement might be how the software changes pilots’ approach to flying. Instead of having to track the flight from the ground and visualize a flight path, LVL 1’s pilots have the equivalent of an on-board point of view like a real pilot would have.
Pilots can see where the LVL 1 is heading and don’t have to keep track of which direction the camera or front of the drone is pointing. “You’re flying the camera, not the drone,” Greiner said.
CyPhy Works also created software that can be used to create a geo-fence, which sets boundaries on where the drone can fly by creating “a box” that keeps the drone over a limited area and within a set altitude range. Greiner expects that will appeal to novices who are learning to fly and don’t want to crash their expensive investment—and keep it away from sensitive areas, like the White House or Capitol. Advanced pilots could use geo-fencing to create a safe training area as they learn aerobatic tricks, she said.