The company expects to begin delivering the new aircraft in early 2016.”We really have invented a better way for drones to fly,” Greiner said in an interview.
A combination of novel software and hardware makes the LVL 1 easier to fly, Greiner says. Unlike most multi-rotor drones, she explains, “it doesn’t tilt forward or backward as it flies, which is what can make flying really difficult for novices.” And a camera integrated into the body, rather than attached to a bracket than hangs from it, means it is less likely to be damaged.
Features of the consumer drone include: allowing the user to set a maximum flying height, which is important since federal laws allow hobbyists to fly drones only up to 400 feet; allowing the user to control the drone via a mobile app; and allowing the user to share high-quality photos or videos from the drone via social media while the drone is in flight.
“You can take it out of the box and it’s ready to fly right from a cell phone,” said Greiner, also the co-founder of Bedford-based iRobot, the company behind the popular robotic vacuum cleaner, the Roomba.
Since it was founded in 2009, CyPhy Works has focused on tethered drones for military and commercial use. The tether makes communication impossible to intercept, and it sends power up to the craft so that flight time is effectively limitless. Greiner says that CyPhy engineers wanted to apply some of the software and aeronautical designs from those craft into something that anyone could use — and lose the tether.
The company spent about a year developing the first prototype, Greiner said.