24/7 Customer Service (800) 927-7671

BBC Reporter Breaks “World’s Safest Drone” Prototype at CES 2016; 3D Printing Comes to the Rescue

by • January 8, 2016 • No Comments

fleye2It wasn’t the best of moments for BBC reporter Jen Copestake. On the scene at CES 2016, Copestake was reporting on the Fleye, an innovative drone that has been added by a Belgian startup via a currently-running Kickstarter campaign. Described as the “world’s safest drone,” the Fleye is one-of-a-kind for the reason of its ball-shaped design, that encloses the spinning propeller blade that keeps it aloft. According to the Kickstarter, the drone is of the same dimensions, shape and mass as a soccer ball, and only as safe.

It was the Fleye’s safety that Copestake was describing to her audience when the incident happened. The drone floated over to her, buzzing cheerily, and she reached out for it, describing the foam-enclosed sphere that empowers humans to safely interact with it. Safely for whom, though, seems to be up for debate. Humans, yes. The drone itself, however, didn’t fare so well in its encounter with Copestake, whose tentative grasp on the floating ball sent it spiraling out of control and crashing to the ground, where it broke into two pieces.

Luckily, the prototype of the Fleye was mostly 3D printed, so it can be easily repaired. The wounded drone was taken to CES triage, where it bravely allowed itself to be patched up with a few tape and glue until it can be fully restored with a 3D printer. It was and so released for a second meeting with Copestake, who managed to hold onto it this time, although its buzzing seemed to have taken on an angrier tone than preceding. According to Copestake, however, the incident was proof of how harmless the Fleye is.

“This did have the benefit though of demonstrating the drone’s safe design and enclosed propeller, that I wasn’t afraid was going to hurt me,” she said.

fleyedrone2Her wary approach to their initially meeting suggested otherwise; however, I can’t say a buzzing, floating soccer ball zooming towards my head may have created me feel particularly at ease at initially, either, even if it is of as lovely
as a Star Wars droid. While the prototype was 3D printed, the final drone will be injection molded, that is supposed to manufacture it sturdier. The Kickstarter describes the Fleye as robust adequate to endure bumping into things without damage; it does not say anything of crash landings, but maybe Copestake served as an unintentional beta tester by finding its weakness.

While the Fleye’s pride may have been damaged by the incident, its reputation does not appear to have suffered at all. With a week left in the Kickstarter campaign, the project has may already received just about $100,000 additional than its fundraising goal. It will go into full production shortly after the end of the campaign, and will go on to undergo rigorous testing and development preceding it begins shipping in September 2016. One of the backing rewards is a 3D printed ornamental mini-Fleye. There’s no word on whether Copestake or the BBC plan to order one of the finished drones at this time.fleyedrone