I’m sure that most of us have heard about the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, a revolutionary product introduced over a decade ago and of which millions of units were sold worldwide. Right now one of its co-inventors seeks to amaze us once again with CyPhy LVL 1 — a camera drone designed with absolute control simplicity in mind that could allow virtually anybody, regardless of their level of expertise, to fly and capture great aerial shots with it.
The LVL 1 drone is created by CyPhy Works, a company specialized in advanced UAVs and led by Helen Greiner, co-founder of iRobot. The campaign is already very successful, at the time of writing it has gathered almost half of it US $250,000 in less than a day.
So, let’s take a look at what we should expect from the CyPhy LVL 1 and find out what sets it apart from other multirotors.
At first glance it seems to fly differently. From the footage presented it is immediately apparent that the drone does not tilt when moving, it maintains completely level during flight.
This is accomplished by means of a technology called Level-Up and an unique airframe design with rotors positioned at certain angles with respect to the main body. This eliminates the need of a gimbal or other stabilization mechanism for the camera, greatly reducing cost and weight of the aircraft.
Another interesting aspect is feature tracking, a notable feature for a drone in this category, accomplished through its main 8 megapixel, 1080p camera which can be tilted up to 90 degrees. There is also a secondary downward facing camera for terrain tracking which further enhances flight precision. A GPS sensor is also available to aid navigation and stabilization.
LVL 1 is designed to fly autonomously and runs on a custom version of the Tau Labs open source autopilot suite for UAVs. Further expansions such as external camera or manual control via hobby transmitters are also possible.
The proposed method of control is via a Swipe-to-Fly iOS or Android app which aims to be very user friendly and packed with features. It will offer extensive geo-fencing configuration options, waypoint and follow navigation, and will also provide easy social media sharing of the captured content. The drone communicates with the device via WiFi.
The LVL 1 drone weights only 800 grams or 1.7 lbs and promises to deliver over 20 minutes of flight time from its Li-Po battery. Other features available are on-board data storage, rapid USB 3.1PD charging and weather resistant body construction for increased reliability.
At the time of writing you can preorder a LVL 1 for a minimum pledge US $495. Should you want a meaner looking red and black colored Diablo version which also features carbon fiber blades, a carrying case and some extra accessories you will need to fork out about $995. For $4,500 you can get a 10 unit swarm set. Head to the LVL 1 campaign page to find out more info. Delivery is estimated for February 2016.
Via Atmel blog