CyPhy LVL 1 Drone: Reinvented for Performance and Control

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CyPhy LVL 1 Drone: Reinvented for Performance and Control

by CyPhy Works

 CyPhy LVL 1 Drone: Reinvented for Performance and Control project video thumbnail

From iRobot cofounder Helen Greiner, the first drone for everyone. It’s safe, shoots films, and snaps beautiful pictures. Read more

Danvers, MA Flight

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From iRobot cofounder Helen Greiner, the first drone for everyone. It’s safe, shoots films, and snaps beautiful pictures.

About this project

Our LVL 1 and LVL 1 Diablo Drone Prototypes In Action!
Our LVL 1 and LVL 1 Diablo Drone Prototypes In Action!
CyPhy LVL 1 and LVL 1 Diablo Drone Prototypes
CyPhy LVL 1 and LVL 1 Diablo Drone Prototypes

VIDEO:

IDG.TV: Drone uses six rotors for level flight

With CyPhy Works drones you’ll be filming right out of the box. Our drones are fun: the glorious picture of your family vacation, the nonchalant backyard BBQ photo, the stunning 360º spin off a half-pipe. Our drones are useful: take an aerial picture of your home, inspect your roof after a storm, see the landscape, create a «fly-over» of your property.

So, why should you be excited for the CyPhy LVL 1 Drone? Because it brings a new perspective that makes drone flying accessible to everyone. Thanks to technological advances like our Level-Up Technology, Swipe-to-Fly capabilities, Real-Time sharing to social media, Geo-Fencing and more, you no longer need to learn how to fly.

You just fly.

With our drone, you can capture life from an entirely new perspective. The CyPhy LVL 1 is an extension of your arm, going places you could never reach. Our drone is versatile and easy to transport, loaded with professional features at an affordable price.  Here’s where we envision going with the look and integrated camera design.

Rendering of the LVL 1 Reward with integrated camera
Rendering of the LVL 1 Reward with integrated camera

It’s truly a next-level drone for everyone!

We are Kickstarting these for $495 for the base model, ready to fly.  We expect them to retail for over $600 after retail markup.  We are excited to hear questions, feedback and/or suggestions from the Kickstarter community.

Other multi-rotor drones have to tilt in order to move. This creates swaying motion in the video which requires elaborate, expensive, and fragile mounts in order to stabilize.

Worse, because in these drones the camera— the most expensive part of the drone— is the closest to the ground, any hard landings hit the camera first.

Enter, Level-Up. This revolutionary technology changes everything. Our drone never tilts, allowing it to snap perfect pictures and stable video every time. By eliminating tilting, the drone handles intuitively, with an unrivaled out-of-the-box experience.

Thanks to its special shape, our LVL 1 simplifies aerial photography. There’s no complex, expensive stabilization mount or vulnerable camera. You’ll take stunning pictures with ease.

Not to worry, if you want to fly loops or rolls, Level-Up can simply be disabled, allowing you to push our drone to its full aerobatic potential.

Ever watched a child’s eyes light up as they instantly grasp how to use a phone? CyPhy Works brings the same intuitive experience to drones. We understand that flying a drone can seem daunting — so we built an app that isn’t. With Swipe-to-Fly, you just swipe your finger on your smartphone and the drone goes. That way, the phone stays squarely in your hands, with the screen perfectly visible. Swipe-to-Fly lets you set up that perfect shot, with an intuitive workflow you’ve already mastered through years of smartphone use.

Sharing should always be simple. With the LVL 1 Drone, you can share your stunning photos and video while flying. No need to wait to upload to Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or any social media platform of choice; do it from the air while the moment is still fresh.

It’s easy to tell our drone where to fly, and more importantly where not to. The technical term for this feature is «geo-fence», but it’s as simple as pacing off the area where you want the drone to stay. Set a maximum and minimum height and our drone will stay within the box, making flight worry-free.

We designed our geo-fence so that you could have perfect confidence in your drone, no matter your flying experience or ability. It even protects your drone during aerobatic flights, so you can practice flips, rolls and more with complete confidence.

Drones are so much cooler than the sum of their parts. And we gave our drone a lot of parts. Our inspiration behind the LVL 1 Drone was to make a drone for everyone, containing advanced features at a price consumers could afford.

Here are some of the specs you should know about our LVL 1 Drone

Expandability: Here are some other features we had fun developing and hope you’ll enjoy

Technical details drone nerds like us care about

CyPhy Works, founded by iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner, has been making tethered drones for industrial application. These drones were designed to fly 24/7 in all types of wind and weather.

While Dr. Kenneth Sebesta was optimizing our drones’ hovering, he came up with a breakthrough. He realized that with just the right twist angle of the arms and a precise amount of added dihedral — plus a lot more fancy math — we could achieve level flight for the first time on a multi-rotor drone.
CyPhy Reinvents Multirotors
CyPhy Reinvents Multirotors
The team prototyped this invention on an existing hobby hex rotor, and — to our great excitement — it flew level. Now, because the LVL 1 flies better than any other drone, enthusiasts have been vocal in their desire to fly it for themselves.
With this improved flying platform, our engineers started brainstorming answers to a simple question: what features would make a drone cool enough for them to recommend it to their friends and family?
The list included: easy and intuitive flight; stable, high-quality video with the ability to share footage real-time; no landing gear so the drone fits in a backpack; a built-in camera so the most important part of the drone is protected and not exposed (like so many other drones); and more … improvements came fast and heavy. In fact, new improvements spring up all the time, that’s the power of our new platform.

The LVL 1 Engineering Team

What do iRobot — the world’s largest mobile robotics company — and Tau Labs — one of the world’s largest autopilot initiatives — have in common? Both have cofounders passionate about the LVL 1 Drone: Helen Greiner and Kenn Sebesta. The LVL 1 team combines the talents of engineers that have brought to market some of the best robot products in the world, and a tried and true open source autopilot already used by thousands.

John Aleman — Commensurate dronie, John got his degree working on Aerospace at Boston University, and led the B.U. UAV team to new heights (puns fly when you make drones).

Felipe Bohorquez — The propellor-head with an Aerospace Ph.D. who ensures our drones fly well.

Ben Corman — An EE from B.U.’s UAV team, Ben is passionate about power products providing protracted flight periods.

Samir Mistry — Samir joined us from iRobot where he delivered robot products. His EE background folded over into a full production experience. If the LVL 1 looks like the Enterprise, it is no «Mistry» who is responsible.

Kenn Sebesta — With a Ph.D. in controls, he has designed drones that help scientists, and also co-founded an open-source autopilot initiative. Drones are in his DNA: his parents met in flight school.

Erika Tsutsumi — Of the Olish, an elusive and secretive clan of engineers, she built humanoid robots at Olin College but has discovered that running robots can’t keep up with flying drones.

We built the LVL 1 Drone as a skunkworks project to keep our team free to innovate with abandon. We think you’ll like the result.

Pre-Kickstarter Timeline

Kickstarter Timeline

Risks and challenges

We burned off the technical risk of this project with successive prototypes. We first proved that Level-Up™ works with our concept prototype. The alpha prototype tested the vehicle dynamics. Then the beta prototype proved wind performance, stability, and smart phone control.

Our next challenge is to embed a camera. Our beta uses an off-the-shelf camera, but this is too heavy and too expensive to include with the LVL 1. We are in the process of choosing a camera vendor. Our team has experience embedding cameras into robot systems, so we feel we are in a good place.

Getting a product into production is an under-appreciated challenge! We have team members who have completed the entire product cycle from design to delivery at iRobot, world-class drone experts, and a seasoned director of manufacturing. Working together as a team, we will be able to surmount the hundreds of unforeseeable problems that will arise.

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