Drone System Plus Virtual-Reality Goggles Let You ‘Experience Flying Like a Bird’…and You’re in Control
Drones and virtual reality are two still up-and-coming technologies, making advancements in their own individual rights.
But Tim Voss had an idea — combine them.
It’s not the first time the idea had been posited, but FLYBi, the “world’s first truly autonomous drone,” as stated on its crowd-funding campaign, has goggles with HD LCD screens that live-stream video from the drone as you’re flying it.
“Ever wonder what it would be like to experience flying like a bird? Well now you can with the innovative head-tracker goggles. Get high above the ground without ever leaving it!” the FLYBi Indiegogo campaign website stated. “Simply put the head-tracker goggles on and experience the drones point of view via live streaming video.”
If you think wearing goggles to fly, seeing what the drone sees, would get disorienting compared to watching the device itself fly, Voss, FLYBi CEO, told TheBlaze in an email that the system actually helps eliminate a well-known problem for inexperienced drone pilots.
“When the drone is heading in an opposite direction, the controls also become opposite and right becomes left, forward becomes backward,” Voss said. “Controls change each time the drone changes direction of flight and this leads to complete disorientation of pilot.
“By using goggles the pilot actually sees the world with drone camera and his controls never change. Also the pilot can predictably avoid collision having much more time to take action as he always sees what’s happening in front of the drone,” he continued.
The goggles feature a head-tracking system that moves the camera on the drone as you move your head, ensuring the wearer doesn’t experience the feeling that they are “inside the box.”
“The human brain is used to seeing the world moving when you move your head and when that’s not happening you get a bad feeling. The FLYBi camera follows the pilot’s head movements and this bad feeling is eliminated,” Voss said.
This video demonstrates how the goggles work:
Voss said he considers FLYBi “one of the safest drones ever built.” It features propeller protectors and also has an obstacle avoidance system, making it less likely for inexperienced pilots to crash into trees or other people. Takeoff, landings and hovering, which Voss called more complex drone maneuvers, can also be automated with this system, which is currently a working prototype.
Wrist-mounted control: As opposed to a solely hand-held controller to fly the drone, FLYBi has a controller that’s worn around the wrist like a watch. “We tried to allow users to bring the drone into their everyday life,” Voss said. “Flight automation and hands-free controls allows the user to combine drone flying with other activities.” This control also features a video stream from the drone camera if you aren’t wearing the goggles.
Camera: The camera itself has a 1080 HD 12MP lens and can shoot both video and photographs.
The system as a whole (drone, goggles, Helideck, wrist-mounted control and batteries) costs $1,495, but individual pieces can be purchased as well, at this time as a way of supporting the crowd-funding effort.
Though it might sound pricey (most hobbyist drones do go for over $1,000), Voss said it’s a cheaper alternative when you start comparing features.
CNET’s Michael Franco did point out that those who choose to back this project should note that they’re “investing in the idea of the FlyBi, not a finished product you’re guaranteed to receive. The little drone is making some big promises, so the idea of ‘buyer beware’ particularly applies here.”
Learn more about the FLYBi system on its Indiegogo website, where nearly $30,000 of a $35,000 funding goal has been raised in less than a week.