Another Drone KickStarter bites the dust ....


After a successful KickStarter tour featuring showings at The White House, TechCrunch Disrupt, DARPA Robotics Challenge and countless flights around the US, CyPhy Works LVL1 Kickstarter has come to an end. We were unable to make the even a delayed delivery schedule due to the maturity of the sourced video components, especially EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization). All money and associated credit card and Kickstarter fees were returned.

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  • I actually have faith that someday motor driven gimbals will be obsolete. It would seem as if enough pixels and enough math could eliminate them  - at least for the hobby end of things. When that day another story.

    I suppose we will find out more as time goes on. 

    My dang roomba works too well to write off Helen this quickly. 

    In fact, it's only by thinking different that drone companies...from this point forward...have a chance. I haven't carefully studied their model, but I see lots of potential uses in security (temporary at events, etc.), military and other.

    I suppose we will know more about their exact KS story in the future. The fact that someone thought they were worth something is no different than the billions invested in Occulus after KS.

    It may be that the product they are going to come up with is very different than the original KS, in which case it would be silly for them to introduce and build a special model to a spec and promise which doesn't make sense (given what they found during R&D).

    There is obviously more to the story...but with these private companies we can only guess. My take is that the final product(s) will be more military/security based and expensive and that puts it out of the KS realm.

  • Hi Rob,

    I agree, although I am sure in calm air and slow speed they could get their technique to "work" I also very strongly feel that in the real windy, gusty world and where rapidly moving action shots are necessary that performance would be less than stellar no matter what they did.

    They mentioned Electronic Image Stabilization product "maturity", but from reading the document, I really don't have a clue what they were actually trying to say, the sentence simply didn't make sense (to me anyway).

    And the fact that they were talking about Electronic stabilization also belies their "commitment to their motor angle control stabilization method.

    Clearly they were working to combine them.

    As I have said before, pitch and yaw are easy since they are simply side to side or up down pixel offset, but roll is a nightmare because it is a rotational offset, potentially about an indeterminate and even moving axis.

    (Every damn pixel has to be offset a different amount, a huge problem greatly compounded by also having to combine this with pitch and yaw offsets in real time.)

    Certainly they may have found this out the hard way.

    Bebop2 is still highly compromised on roll stabilization and the Sony action cams which are the best at this still have a ways to go to.

    @ Craig, I agree that giving the money back was better than not, but the simple fact is that "Bessemer" obviously thought they had something worth 22 million dollars and so they are obviously continuing in a major way, the Kickstarter investors, now having been "excluded" from this.

    However I do suppose the reality was that by the time they might have been ready to send out their sort of working Kickstarter batch, Chinese prices on superior gimbaled quadcopters had already gotten cheaper than their Kickstarter price.

    In that regard, simply refunding the money was the best they could do.

    But the final chapter has most certainly not been written and it will be interesting to see what CyPhy with their new best friends actually does next.

  • @Rob_Lefebvre I agree, it is a bad idea, expecially if the main use is sport/action video. I bet that it was too slow and even worse efficiency wise... not to mention the camera, that will be too limited and difficult to be made to work really well.  Anyway the protoypes are cool and well designed, you can clearly seen a professional team behind it (unlike many others that were on ks/igg).  Probably the whole concept of "staying level" can be useful for some more specific platform, like tetered one (if they makes sense at all) or anything that can benefit from a more inerently stable behaviour.

  • if it sounds to good to be true, it normally is ;-) stable video without a gimbal can't work!

  • I am with Rob on this. It was probably just a bad idea that they could not make work.

  • @Gary, as far as kickstarter I have to wonder how much more harm they can do to themselves - yes, they probably should have some kind of agreement in place that is s penalty for those who CHOOSE not to deliver. 

    But my point is that, on the scale of "bad", getting a refund of money instead of a first generation startup item is probably not a bad each individual KS backer.

    I sorta feel like a cheapskate because I almost never back these projects. I did back tile and they sent out a bunch of those good-for-nothing bluetooth thingys with a range of about 20 feet. So kudos to them...

    It's a great idea but I think when it left the arts and small projects and started with the many many millions it may have went off the rails. But who knows? I think Pebble came out of KS or IGG and probably a bunch of others.

    The backers, in many cases, crave to be a part of something...more than just recipients of the product. So even with drama they get what they paid for to some degree (complete farces like Plexi aside).

  • My cynical view is that the real story behind the delay is the the planned stabilization and navigation method is a really bad idea, and the EIS could not be made to work well enough to make the resultant video watchable.

  • Developer

    @Digtal Wings, take a look at the price tag (VC money) for Solo.

  • $22 million in funding??? That thing better cut the lawn after its done taking pics.
  • Moderator

    This happened ages ago, (in Internet years)

    I know from the correspondence that I had with the team at the time they were upset about it happening and I thought they did the right thing refunding when they realized they were not going to hit their goals.

    Remember there had just been big DJI discounts. They might have been looking at it very sensibly.

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