In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks with Sergei Lupashin about Perspective Robotics upcoming flying camera, the Fotokite Phi.
The Phi is a rotor-craft unmanned aerial vehicle, called a quadrocopter, that a user controls with a retractable leash. As the quadrocopter flies, it keeps tension on the leash; this tension allows it to determine where it is in space with respect to the user holding the leash. Because the Phi figures out where it is from the leash, it can follow the user without a vision system or GPS. Lupashin says that the leash also allows users to learn to fly the Phi in a short time and that it provides a natural way of controlling the quadrocopter.
For easy transport, the four arms with propellers of the Phi can be folded up so that it can fit in a large-thermos-size cylinder.
Perspective Robotics is running an Indiegogo campaign to fund production of the Fotokite Phi. The campaign’s video is below.
Sergei Lupashin is the founder of Perspective Robotics, the Swiss company behind the Fotokite. Previous to that he worked in aerospace and participated in robotics competitions such as the DARPA Grand+Urban Challenges (autonomous cars). He was chief architect for the ETH Flying Machine Arena, where he enjoyed torturing little quadrocopters until they learned to do flips. He holds a BS in Elec & Comp Engineering from Cornell, an MSc + PhD in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich (topic: aerial robotics) and is a TED Fellow. Sergei is passionate about building devices that are usable and useful in the real world.
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- Link to Fotokite Phi Indiegogo campaign