What has the same size and weight as a soccer ball, flies in the air and takes videos and photos? There’s only one thing that fits that description and it’s the Fleye Drone.
At first glance, the Fleye Drone looks like something that came out of a science fiction movie. Drones generally look futuristic but the Fleye Drone is on a different level altogether. It has a near spherical design that resembles a soccer ball with a HD camera positioned at its top.
What makes the Fleye truly unique is its single motor design. Unlike other multirotors that use 3 or more motors for propulsion, the Fleye relies on only 1 motor. However, the way it propels itself in the air is very similar to a multirotor.
The drone’s single motor generates all the propulsion it needs which is then subdivided by four control vanes positioned underneath it to generate lift and motion. For example, if it is directed to move forward, the vane at the rear of the drone repositions to allow more propulsion to the rear. With its main propeller hidden neatly in its body, seeing the Fleye cruise in the air can seem a bit otherworldly to the casual observer.
This fully enclosed motor design not only makes for some truly neat aesthetics, it also makes the drone a lot safer compared to other drones that have exposed motors. One only needs to do a quick Google search to discover the kind of damage that fast spinning drone propellers can cause. With the Fleye, there is no way you’re going to accidentally cut yourself in the hands or face when things go wrong.
The Fleye Drone weighs a lightweight 450g and has a diameter of about 23cm. It is assisted by an array of 7 sensors — an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, sonar, optical flow camera, altimeter and GPS. Commanding it all is a Linux-powered flight controller and computer with dual-core processors and 512MB of memory. Power is provided by a 1500mAh 3S battery which gives it a flight time of about 10 minutes.
Fleye can be piloted using a smartphone app that is available on both Android and iOS. By default, the drone can fly autonomously in various camera modes such as selfie, panorama and virtual tripod. These modes do not require any piloting skills. If manual control is needed, the app has a virtual control pad. Alternatively, a Bluetooth gamepad can also be used.
The makers of Fleye have also made it an open platform which means software developers will have the freedom to develop specific apps for the drone once it’s available.
The Fleye Drone is currently on a fundraising campaign at Kickstarter with 6 more days to go.