Is That a Drone in Your Pocket?

AirDroids Pocket Drone. Photo: AirDroids
AirDroids Pocket Drone.
Photo: AirDroids

What’s a Pocket Drone?

The Pocket Drone is a new aerial drone by start-up AirDroids. It is currently available through their Kickstarter campaign only.

The folding tri-copter design is intended to be the camera phone of drones. It is small enough to fit in a cargo pants pocket, but strong enough to lift a GoPro camera.

There have been other folding tri-copter designs, but none so compact. Even the propellers fold, which is new at the under $500 price point.

The Pocket Drone started as an idea by Timothy Reuter. Timothy is the organizer of the DC Area Drone User Group (DC DUG), and also started the Drone User Group Network (DUGN).

Timothy sees the Pocket Drone as a way to make aerial photography commonplace. Taking fabulous pictures or video from the air doesn’t require a lot of planning. You can have the Pocket Drone on hand when you need it.

Getting the Band Together

Timothy met Chance Roth through the San Diego Drone User Group. They had already decided that they wanted to start an aerial drone company, and had been working with another partner for about a year when Timothy met TJ Johnson at the local HacDC hackerspace. TJ turned out to be a brilliant engineer.

“I love hackerspaces,” says Timothy. “There are so many chances for serendipity, and finding people with amazing talents.”

Having the right team is essential for a start up company. Timothy had the vision and saw the gap in the marketplace. TJ is the lead engineer, and figured out how to take those ideas and make something out of it. Chance had the experience with manufacturing and consumer product marketing to take the Pocket Drone to market.

Raising Capital

AirDroids’ Kickstarter campaign has been going very well. With weeks left to go, they are approaching 10 times their goal and going strong. Hundreds of backers have signed up to get one of these birds.

“We are happily shocked by the response,” says Timothy, “but we would have been disappointed if we only made our $35,000 goal.”

At that level, they could have bought parts in bulk and assembled the Pocket Drones themselves. Now they are working with a manufacturing partner, and preparing to produce thousands of units to meet demand.

What’s Next?

Timothy is already thinking long term. He has a 10 year vision to create aerial robots and supporting technologies that are easier to use and make people’s lives better. He wants to allow people to be creative and not restricted by technology.

Strong fundraising campaign results demonstrate demand, and show that AirDroids has a following of potential customers. It establishes a track record that venture capitalists and other investors can bank on.

Many people and businesses in the U.S. are betting that the FAA will issue new rules in 2015 allowing for commercial use of aerial drones. That could spell a lot of growth in demand for products like the Pocket Drone. AirDroids is set to take advantage of a piece of that demand.

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Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and author of How Things Are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers. Andrew is also an electronics and robotics enthusiast and has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children's Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Enrichment in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.

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