Fleye – Personal Flying Robots

Engineers have redesigned a drone they hope will be safer and easier to control.

Laurent Eschenauer is passionate about new technologies but was frustrated with drones. His major issue was safety due to the copter blades and control of the drones. Along with his team at GoFleye, Eschenauer tried to redesign drones as a safe, robust machine that was easy to control by any user. The team partnered with Pierre L’Hoest as an investor and advisor, and are running a Kickstarter funding campaign for Fleye – Your Personal Flying Robot.

Design requirements for Fleye were that it felt the same as a soccer ball in terms of size and weight. The goal was to be able to throw Fleye into the air and then immediately be able to control its speed and direction. The machine itself runs from a single propeller shielded on all sides, surrounded by four control vanes. The diameter is 23 centimeters and the weight is 450 grams. Cameras sit at the bottom with the sonar sensor and at the top of Fleye next to the dual-core on board computer and wi-fi connection.  Acceleration, magneto, sonar, optical flow, gyroscope, altimeter and position sensors are all built into the system. The 5 megapixel HD camera at the top of the machine is 1080p and runs at 30 frames per second.

Several modes of flight and photography are standard already. Selfie mode backs up to a set distance and then takes video while moving back toward the user. Panorama mode flies to an altitude and rotates to build a 360 degree view. Hover mode lingers in the air while the user finds the best viewing angle or altitude for a shot. Manual control mode is shown in the video where the user controls Fleye through the app, but an RC receiver can also be connected for control.

Eschenauer and CTO Dimitri Arendt are hoping that the idea of Fleye takes off with consumers and flight enthusiasts but also that the platform is used to develop new technologies in flying robotics. Android, Python and iOS software development kits currently exist and the team is hoping that backers will work through the code and give feedback to improve the product and the programming.

Fleye borrows heavily from a ducted fan military style drone, but smaller and better suited to personal use. It will be very interesting to watch the funding campaign unfold as the target is 175,000 euros to be raised by January 15, 2016. The innovative design and commitment to moving forward drone technology will hopefully find the audience needed to fund the project and put Fleye into the hands of consumers.