3D Robotics

Good-looking VTOL project on Kickstarter

3689630407?profile=original This one looks pretty sweet. Stating at $600 on Kickstarter:

A Quadcopter Plus a Flying Wing

Drones seem to be everywhere. The problem is that the vast majority of them are multi-rotors and they excel at one thing: hovering.  

Hovering solves one side of the problem, but when shooting a fast subject you need speed. Without compromising precision hovering capabilities we created something fast. We created something that broke the 100 km/h barrier. Enter the X PlusOne. 

At its core the X PlusOne is a revolutionary hybrid.  It combines multi-rotor capabilities with high speed flight from its fixed wing.  The X PlusOne feels right at home hovering with the multi-rotors or skimming the treetops at blistering speeds!


The X PlusOne is a Pro when it comes to precision stabilized hover.  We designed the control algorithms so the craft remains rock solid, even in windy conditions. 


Speed isn't normally associated with most of the drones out there.  We changed that!  Ever heard of a multi-rotor taking great aerial shots at 100 km/h?  Well, now you have!

A Drone Redefined

The X PlusOne doesn't just fly around looking great (although it does), it's an aerial camera drone too!  We offer the X PlusOne with an array of filming apparatus.  From a simple mini DV camera to the ever-popular GoPro.  Our optional stabilizing gimbal platform renders silky smooth video. The point is, we have demonstrated the engineering on this craft and it works very well.

Easy to Fly

From its inception the X PlusOne was designed with the average operator in mind.  If you can fly a multi-rotor or an RC airplane, you can fly the X PlusOne.  The craft self-stabilizes in both hover and forward flight modes.  Transitioning between the two is a matter of simply flipping one switch.  Our onboard computer and sensors manage the details.   

Imagine what you could do with the X PlusOne!

Key Features

  • A speed demon: Need to follow a fast subject or want some super-cool flybys?  The patent pending design of the X PlusOne has you covered with ultra-fast cruise mode with speeds over 60 mph (100 kph).
  • The hover ship: A stable quadcopter when you need it for tight takeoffs and landings or when shooting stills.
  • Easy to fly: Stabilized in both hover and cruise modes.  Auto recovery switch ensures that if you get in trouble, one flip of a switch will put the craft into auto-level hover.
  • Expandable for the pro: If you're already an expert, disable stabilization for amazing aerobatics, unlike anything you've ever experienced with an RC aircraft.
  • Ultimate GoPro accessory:  With multiple options for mounting GoPro action cameras, your inner aerial cinematographer will never be in want with the X PlusOne.
  • Stable camera platform: Optimized control algorithms and an optional 2-axis brushless camera gimbal mean you get rock solid, silky smooth aerial video and stills.
  • Ready to fly - and film: Ready To Fly and Film packages get you everything you need to keep up with the action.  All Ready To Fly packages include the assembled X PlusOne, motors and electronics, 2.4 GHz transmitter, battery, and charger.  The Ready To Film packages also throw in a micro DV or GoPro Hero camera!
  • Safe: The X PlusOne is rich in safety features including Safe-Arm and Auto-Recovery.


  • Dimensions: 32.5 x 19 x 14 inches
  • Flying weight: 2.8 lbs 
  • Patent-pending hybrid quadcopter flying wing design
  • Speed range: hover - 60 mph (100 kph)
  • Flight time: 10-15 minutes
  • Breaks down for easy transportation
  • Optional 2-axis brushless gimbal for GoPro
  • Optional fixed GoPro mount
  • Optional fixed micro DV camera 
  • Optional GoPro Hero HD action camera

Our Team

JD Claridge is the visionary and inventor of the x PlusOne design.  He started his career at Volant Technica as an aerospace engineer and later served several years as the lead electrical engineer at Quest Aircraft.  For the past few years JD has been running his own aerospace design firm.

Charles Manning is the CEO of a leading mobile analytics technology company, Kochava.  An aviation enthusiast, Charles was immediately excited about working with JD to help make the X PlusOne a reality.

Why We need Your Help

We have a proven design and we want to do a large-scale production run - working with Kickstarter to gauge how many units will be produced.  

We feel confident that we will hit our minimum - we simply wonder how many we will punch out in this first production run.  We are excited to hit our stretch goals with your help!


  Key Milestones (already done)

  • Inception of X PlusOne - December 2013 - DONE
  • Conceptualize overall design - February 2014 -DONE
  • Begin detailed design - July 2014 - DONE
  • Develop 5 prototype iterations and test - August 2014 -DONE
  • First flight of conforming prototype - September 2014 - DONE
  • Fine tune controller software - October 2014 - DONE
  • File patent application - November 2014 - DONE
  • Finalize costs, develop supply chain and manufacturing capability- November 2014 -DONE

   Key Milestones (after successful funding)

  • Ship laser-cut display models - January 2015
  • Release final drawings and software - January 2015
  • Order molded and custom components - January 2015
  • Order for off-the-shelf parts - February 2015
  • Secure backup supply chain - March 2015
  • Molded and custom parts manufactured - May 2015
  • Final assembly and testing at the XplusOne factory - June 2015


Risks and challenges

There are a few challenges and risks that are related to the X PlusOne. Fortunately, neither successful design and implementation are on the list. We have spent the last year designing the X PlusOne and prototyping it through various iterations to ensure that our team was confident about what we were going to do with this Kickstarter project.

The X PlusOne is not a concept that we still have to implement. This is proven.

There are some risks about scheduling, but fortunately, we have set timing expectations for mid-summer 2015 to mitigate any risk around scheduling. We feel a little bit like our schedule is too padded - but we're more comfortable doing this than to miss a delivery date.

From a problem solving perspective, our team is made up of Aerospace engineers, electrical engineers and software engineers. We know what happens with there are problems and we work every day to address them. We're confident that we will ship!

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  • Just 54 hours left in the campaign. We're Over 200% funded but we'd love to finish out strong with DIY Drones support. Last chance to get a the fully autonomous version.

    X PlusOne: Your Ultimate Hover + Speed Aerial Camera Drone
    The X PlusOne is a revolutionary hybrid drone that combines the ability for both stabilized hover and remarkably fast forward flight.
  • I can't believe this thing is struggling on Kickstarter.  I guess it's true.  Everybody just wants another quad with a camera.

  • Would seem that if the power fails, it will glide with zero control.  Best case it establishes some stable glide-slope, probably fairly steep. Given there is no dihedral at all, and no tail, it will probably just continue in whatever direction it was flying when the power failed.  Basically, I expect results similar to a quad with power failure.

  • On the practical side, this may become a precision agriculture and photogrammetry killer.

    - Ebees and Trimble cost a fortune ;

    - For beginners, throwing flying wings at take off is not very easy, and auto-land is not accurate and requests space ;

    - Today, one needs to own both a plane and a multi-rotor to cover all types of agriculture and photogrammetry missions. Purchasing both systems is costly ;

    I don't really mind whether it is new or not.

    I just feel that this wing + gimball + gopro + waypoints is a great way to go.

    One question though : what happens in case of power failure ? Will it still glide gently until landing ? Or does it fall like a classic quad ?

  • Brandin (and others),  Thanks for the constructive criticism.  I wouldn't expect anything less for from this community.  

    We are certainly aware that we haven't created something absolutely new - but does anyone do that?  All innovation is a progression.  Each advancement builds on the last.  We see the X PlusOne as a forward step in VTOL aircraft design.

    There are no free lunches.  We're all stuck with the same laws of physics.  We don't claim that the craft is more efficient than any flying wing or faster than any multi-rotor.  It's the combination in a VTOL package that sets the X PlusOne apart - and we do have data to back that up.

    Rob, In regard to your question about inverted hover (good eye by the way); It's not something we are actively advertising but the craft is designed to allow for it.  We saw this as a potential need to place the camera underneath for unobstructed view in hover.  For the motivated hacker it would require different props, controller and ESC firmware updates to make it work.  You loose considerable efficiency with reversible props and it's not as simple to fly with this capability so we deemed it to be beyond your typical Kickstarter backer.  Might be something we would offer if we got enough interest though.

    We will be posting an update with some high wind flying video soon.  Seems to be a hot topic.  It does "kite" into the wind in hover - more so if the main wing is perpendicular to the wind.  When we tested in 30 mph winds, pitch attitude nestled in at about a 30-40 degrees nose-up in hover.

  • No offense, but... This has been done before and better. To my knowledge, and anyone please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, the "quadshot" (http://transition-robotics.com/) was the 1st transitioning UAV sold to the general public. Not only was it 1st, it has a bitchin' controller that allows for full autonomy and manages the the flight from VTOL through transition. No weird dual controller hacks or anything.

    It's getting old with newcomers coming on the scene and going "look at us, we're the 1st" when it's already been done long before. Maybe spend a few hours googling and researching the marketspace before making such bold claims.

    I'd suggest you contact TRI and implement their controller over the pixhawk as a strech goal. I'm not aware of anyone using the pixhawk as a stand-alone transitioning flight controller, and I think it might be a bigger project than you might think. i.e. more than $150k in development. 

    I'm also curious what aspect of this is patentable? We've had prop driven transitioning aircraft for over 60 years now.

    Interesting looking airframe, but I fail to see anything "new" or "novel". Interesting as a toy, but not much else...

  • And, I hadn't seen the wind commentary.  Yes, this is one of the big problems with transitioning VTOLs.

    I assume when hovering in 30 mph wind, you pretty much have to have the nose pointed upwind?  How much wind can it tolerate while hovering, without having to point the nose upwind?

  • I'll start with saying nice job, I envy your drive to get this off the ground and hope your project is successful!.

    And as you should probably have expected from this site, and you have already received from other members, here are my criticism and compliments :)

     Your claim of "efficient forward flight" is pretty deceiving and I find that quite annoying. If you said "relative to an average quad" you might get away with it.

    Your claim of "nobody else has done it before" might get you brownie points from amateurs but on a site like this its a pretty good way to piss people off and I wont beat it to death.

    I'm glad you at least mentioned that this will float away in wind on your kick starter page, it would be cool to see some video of how it handles in windy conditions.

    It looks very nimble and responsive, I think you might beat out birds eye view in the "taking hovering pictures" department.

    All and all I think this would make a cool toy to fly around the park and take some cool videos

  • Rob, do you think it would be better to have a more quadshot like wing? Can't you get away with a shorter wing for VTOL, since you only need enough for high speed flight?
  • JD, I agree with that datapoint.  But a 152 is optimized to be an airplane.   The Xplusone is compromised for VTOL.  It has 3 extra motors, huge vertical surface which is not necessary, etc.  And while wingborne flight tends to be more efficient, the Xplusone wing is short and probably not that efficient.  You'll be saving some power used for lift, but losing it in skin drag.  And it must certainly weigh more than a comparable quad.  

    If you compared a real V-22 to the performance of a fixed wing cargo plane, I'm sure the VTOL would be less efficient.

    Do my eyes deceive me, or are you using reversible props on it?

    And your white and orange prototype appears to have ailerons, but the black one doesn't?

    Again, I think what you've done is awesome and I'd love to get one myself.  It looks great, and will fly like no quad can fly (quad can't pull 2+ G turns), etc.  Just the engineer in me likes to look at things critically. ;)

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