Canadian snap-together UAV launches following half mill crowd-funding campaign
Toronto-based DreamQii’s PlexiDrone to hit retail shelves by March 2015.
Toronto start-up DreamQii announced that its Canadian designed and manufactured quad-copter UAV, the PlexiDrone, will officially go on sale in Spring 2015 given the strong response the company received through its IndieGogo campaign. Initially set at a target of $100,000, the company’s crowd-funding effort has raised nearly $470,000 in the last month.
While similar in appearance to other aerial photography UAVs, the 2.2-pound PlexiDrone is unique in that it’s designed to be assembled and disassembled easily by way of a tool-less, snap-together construction. Rotor arms, landing gear and camera mount all detach from the central hub and stow in a specially designed hard-shell backpack for transport. The system can then be reassembled on-site within a minute, the company says.
Beyond its mobility, the Canadian-made drone also features a number of handy features for prospective aerial cinematographers. Controlled via either an iOS, Android or Windows-based mobile device, the DreamQii’s drone allows for standard waypoint-style programming but also incorporates a GPS-enabled “follow-me” option. Pressing a button in the drone’s companion PlexiGCS app tells the drone to follow behind, above, in front or to the left or right of the controlling smartphone’s location.
The system’s modular architecture also accommodates custom photographic payloads. In addition to GoPro and other compact dSLR cameras, the company will offer a special harness to accommodate a spherical 360-degree camera (BublCAM) made by fellow IndieGogo favorite and Toronto-startup, Bubl Technology.
The system also allows for 2-axis image-stabilizing gimbals and is one of the few UAVs take full advantage of 3-axis gimbals, the company says, due to the PlexiDrone’s landing gear that retracts to provide an unobstructed shot. The system also incorporates an ultrasonic sensor that can detect and avoid obstacles at distances of up to 30 feet.
Weighing 1 kg without payload, the UAV can produce 7 lbs of thrust and reach a top speed of 70 kph (43 mph). According to the company, the drone’s rechargeable battery lasts between 10-35 minutes of hover and 10-25 minutes of flight time, depending on payload weight.
In addition, DreamQii says its system can also coordinate two or more PlexiDrones simultaneously via the PlexiHub, a Bluetooth-enabled wireless drone router that allows one user to swarm multiple UAVs and film an event from multiple angles, follow search grid patterns or survey larger areas.
The PlexiDrone’s creator, DreamQii CEO, Klever Freire, worked for six years in aircraft certification, design assurance and performance optimization with Bombardier Aerospace before founding the startup. The company currently resides at the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) , a business incubator on the Ryerson University campus, in downtown Toronto.
Given the success of the DreamQii’s ongoing crowd-funding effort and retail agreements, which combined exceed US$1 million so far, the company says it projects the PlexiDrone will become available commercially online and through camera retailer, Henry’s, by March of 2015.