A team of more than 30 hipsters from around the world, who have offices in San Francisco, New York, LA, Shenzen and Ho Chi Minh City, called Autonomous have created what they believe to be the ultimate drone racing kit and are Crowdfunding on Indiegogo.
Described as “drone racing in a fun, intense and affordable way, the team say they are combining the best of digital games with the best of physical games in one unique, intoxicating blend.
Their “ULTIMATE KIT” comes with drones, controllers, flags, cones and headsets, as well as a free mobile app – and everything works straight out of the box.
The app allows competitors to challenge their friends, start leagues, and arrange race meets, as well as watching some of the best drone race footage from around the world. How very cool. Oh and there’s a first person view available, too.
$99 dollars gets you a full kit, and 30 out of 200 available have already been shipped – $149 gets you the cones, backpack and other paraphernalia you need to build your own track.
The drones race for a period of seven minutes before they drop out of the sky, enough for at least 3 races, say the founders, but there is also an option to purchase spare batteries, if you are looking for a more sustained thrill.
The controlling distance is 50 metres, and the drones, Autonomous says reassuringly on the Indiegogo page, are very easy to fly! Videos are recorded automatically by the app provided there is an internet connection.
Autonomous are also operating a referral scheme which entitles you to a VR Cardboard if you refer one friend, and a VR headset if you refer 2. 10 referrals will get you 2 drones and 2 headsets – zut alors!
Deliveries begin next month, and early bird purchasers will be eligible to receive theirs immediately after the campaign finishes in mid August.
So far, the campaign has raised $48,757 out of a flexible goal of $10,000, from 376 backers. The drone racing kits themselves have been reviewed by blogs like Yahoo News, Tom’s Hardware, and Trendhunter.
The Indiegogo crowdfunding platform is a curious mix of fundraising platform and gadget store shelf, populated as it is by a verging on the gaudy array of top tech toys, which are presumably being built and sold according to demand.
It’s a neat advertising ploy as you can determine demand for the product and only build as many as you need to sell, plus it works magnificently as an advertising platform, and is a whole lot cheaper than making a TV commercial.
Almost inevitably, behind the young, fun façade, there is probably a hard nosed toy factory owner churning out the drones, but hey, if its good enough for Santa…
Speaking of Christmas, this does feel somewhat like a stocking filler – some robots and tech have the power to transform the world we live in, some drones even…but not these ones – these are just good fun in the same way that Scalextrix was good fun, with, unless you are of a particularly geeky persuasion, a similar length shelf-life.
Give us a Swingball any day, but, that said, if somebody bought a drone racing kit into school, we would be right bang into that queue for a go, praying that we got a go before the school bully flew one straight into somebody’s head.
Drone’s, and dare we say it, VR have the potential to become quite mundane, quite quickly…but still, the promise of the technology is propping up the fortunes of some pretty big companies. It could be case of getting one, while stock (prices) last.