Drones get some bad press, with many associating them with a dystopian future defined by war and surveillance. But now a company is trying to make drones more popular - and in the process improving aerial photography so you can take selfies from the air. The Fotokite Phi is a drone on a leash that you can lead around just like a pet and is now available for pre-order as part of crowdfunding campaign. On a tight leash: 'The Fotokite's tether (pictured) provides a safer, more direct way to fly. It enables close-proximity operations and the tether provides visual accountability for bystanders and property owners,' the Swiss start-up said The drone is now on sale with prices starting at $249 (£159) and can be pre-ordered on their Indiegogo crowdfunding page.
During his presentation, Dr. Lupashin of ETH Zurich attached a dog leash to an aerial drone while declaring to the audience, "there has to be another way" of flying robots safely around people. Lupashin's creativity eventually led to the invention of Fotokite and one of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns. Since Lupashin's demo, there are now close to a hundred providers of drones on leashes from innovative startups to aftermarket solutions in order to restrain unmanned flying vehicles. Probably the best known enterprise solution is CyPhy Works which has raised more than $30 million. Last August, during President Trump's visit to his Golf Course in New Jersey, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deployed CyPhy's tethered drones to patrol the permitter.
Camera-carrying drones are among this year's hottest holiday gifts, with models like DJI's Phantom series flying off store shelves. But drones can be expensive, cumbersome and tough to learn to fly. A Swiss company called Fotokite aims to address those concerns with its new Fotokite Phi, a $249 foldable drone with a unique twist: Instead of flying freely, it stays tethered to a handheld controller. Launching the drone involves taking it out of a Pringles can-like case, unfolding the wings, syncing the controller and giving the Phi a twist. After a few seconds of orienting itself, the Phi revs up to takeoff speed, at which point you release your grip on the drone as it takes to the sky.
If you want to put an eye out, by all means, fly a quadcopter indoors. Shred the houseplants and ruin the linens. Give the dog a complex. Really, it's a shame that drones don't work so hot indoors. After all, they'd be immensely useful for, say, decommissioning chemical and energy plants by providing a view of overhead pipes and such that terrestrial rovers can't reach.
The 2017 European Robotics Forum in Edinburgh brought together over 800 people from robotics academia and industry. In an effort to bridge the two, euRobotics hosted an Entrepreneurship and TechTransfer award. Startups from around Europe competed for top prizes in front of a panel of experts. The euRobotics Technology Transfer Award, now in its fourteenth year, showcases the impact of robotics research and puts the spotlight on successful technology transfer between science and industry. Innovations in robot tech and automation -- through the result of research and industry working together -- are eligible for the prize.