British startup finally begins shipping its handheld drone
A Cornwall man appears to be the first person to actually receive a Zano—the little drone manufactured by Torquing Group, a British startup that Ars visited earlier this year.
The customer, David Black, went to go pick it up in person late last week from the office in western Wales rather than waiting for it to be shipped, as he happened to be in the area.
Earlier this year, Torquing raised over £2.3 million ($3.4 million) in under two months, becoming the most crowdfunded Kickstarter project in Europe ever. However, since then, the company has repeatedly missed its own shipping deadlines. The longer the Zano delays, the tougher time the device will have competing against larger and more established rivals like DJI or Parrot.
On Tuesday, Torquing told its Kickstarter backers that “Shipping has begun and we currently have 250 units that the team are busy packaging and labeling for delivery and we anticipate that these will be in transit very soon.”
It raised $3.4M in two months, but questions remain about Torquing Group’s Zano drone.
The company did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment. None of the Zano backers on the company’s own discussion forums or two Facebook groups had reported receiving one shipped to their door as of this writing.
So how was the Zano’s maiden voyage?
“It wasn’t bad, to be honest,” Black told Ars. “The version of the app that I’ve got, the safeguards are turned up too high on it. So it auto lands much more often than it probably should.”
This beta app apparently has the GPS disabled, which means that Black’s Zano cannot hold a position in space for now, much less have an auto-follow feature. (The Android and iPhones apps have yet to be released.)
Black tested the drone for some short flights in his kitchen and outside on what he described as a “windy” beach near his home. He noted that the 55-gram drone performed admirably, with no discernible difference after he crashed it into the sand, a rock, and a tree.
The new Zano owner also estimated his real-world battery usage to be five to 10 minutes per battery, but he said that he hasn’t done extensive testing. Still, he is excited to fly it more, he said.
“Because it’s so small, no one seems bothered by it, so that’s quite an advantage,” he added. “I’ve been on the beach when someone pulls out a DJI Phantom or something like that—people are almost running away.”