A flying robot is on its way to becoming one of the most successful projects in Kickstarter history. The tiny, GoPro-mountable Pocket Drone was unveiled at this year’s CES trade show, and has since made the rounds as one of the most exciting products in the market thanks to its user-friendly design and functionality.
It’s also on its way to becoming one of the most profitable Kickstarter projects of all time. At press time, the Pocket Drone had $410,214 pledged on a $35,000 goal... with 43 days left on its pledge drive. That’s a funding rate of 11,720 percent—well above Kickstarter’s current most-funded project, the Pebble smartwatch, which concluded its campaign with some 10,266 percent funding.
Of course, Pebble raised more than $10,000,000 on a $100,000 goal—so take the hype with a grain of salt.
We’ve covered consumer drones and UAVs in the past, and at this year’s CES they were a hot-ticket item. But the Pocket Drone, from AirDroids, may be a game-changer. That's because it offers the functionality of a full-sized consumer drone in a collapsible design small enough to fit in a toiletry bag.
With a promised retail price of less than $500, the Pocket Drone is targeted at action cam enthusiasts—mostly sports and aerial photography hobbyists, or casual filmmakers and videographers looking to add more variety to their shoots.
Right out of the bag, the Pocket Drone promises up to 20 minutes of flight time, a half-pound payload (ideal for GoPro cameras), flight planning and auto-pilot synced through Google Maps, GPS tracking, a “follow me” mode that tails the owner’s mobile device, and Android compatibility (iOS is in the works).
The flying mechanism consists of 6-axis accelerometers, 3-axis gyroscopes, and a barometric sensor for altitude. Users can also direct the drone to “return home,” or monitor real-time flight data on their smartphone or tablet.
That's pretty impressive for a tricopter the size of a shoebox.
But what’s really intriguing about the Pocket Drone is its enormous, ongoing success on Kickstarter. In terms of its total funding-to-goal ratio, it’s already one of the most successful in history, and it shows no signs of slowing with more than a month left in its campaign.
Of course, many critical details about the Pocket Drone are currently unavailable—such as battery life, flight distance, and maximum altitude. But for a compact $500 drone designed specifically for action cams, it looks like a pretty sweet deal.
With the commercial UAV market set to take off this year, products like the Pocket Drone are stirring excitement in a space that’s riddled with controversy. While concerns about privacy are warranted, it's important to keep the myriad potential benefits of this tech in mind. Everything from disaster relief and search-and-rescue operations, to field reporting and agriculture stands to benefit from consumer UAV technology.