April 18, 2015
Going to the local hobby shop as a kid was one of my favorite things to do. I’d spend hours wandering the aisles looking for a car, plane, or boat kit to build – and when I got older I started building remote control cars that were totally epic.
I’ve long been dreaming of a world where people can buy drone kits and build their own aerial vehicles. Skyworks Aerial Systems (Skyworks) recently launched a campaign that wants to bring DIY programmable drone kits into the hands of everyday people: it’s not quite at the hobby shop level yet, but this is a major stepping stone.
The drone kit, or QuaRK-e as they’re calling it, is a low-cost and easy to assemble quadcopter platform. It’s directly inspired by the ideal that anyone can learn how to program hardware if only given the proper tools.
“We want to take the complexity of engineering robotics out of people’s hands, but at the same time, give them the hands-on experience of putting something together,” says Skyworks Aerial Systems CEO and founder Greg Friesmuth.
Skyworks is effectively putting to rest the commonplace argument that the barrier to entry for something like this is too high, one that requires extensive knowledge in hardware and coding. However, the team tells us that they expect the DIY kits to thrust the future of aerial robotics into the hands of independent developers, who will in turn innovate in their own right.
“Many developers are already familiar with coding web applications. Why not take it a step further and learn how to program a flying robot?” says Jinger Zeng, COO of Skyworks.
Further, according to Zeng, Skyworks’ development environment “Forge” gives users the option to either script their own code or simple drag and drop blocks of code. The drone kit is also compatible with various sensors kits on the market so users can create their own, customer applications with ease.
Up to this point Skyworks has maintained a specialization across education, research, and commercial applications: this new launch only seeks to strengthen that resolve. The DIY drone kit will, as Skyworks says, help jump start their “Become a #Dronesmith Initiative”.
June 1, 2015 will mark the first day of the Kickstarter campaign in which the team will give people the ability to pre-order a kit. Additionally, they’ll create a donation pool to support school robotics programs both locally in Las Vegas and across the nation.
Happy flying my friends!
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