Irresponsable and Immoral




Lately I have been following the kikstarter project “The pocket Drone” which is having a huge impact.
First of all I am a bit pissed off because in the kikstarter project there is just this mention to Ardupilot!
• APM compatible flight controller 6-axis accelerometers, 3 axis gyroscopes, barometric sensor (altitude)

There is not any comment or anything relating DIYD or 3DR!

Second in this interview they present the product without even mentioning Arducopter, but when they are asked on what OS do they use they say “currently is based in the arducopter OS, is using an opencourse plataform that we’ve added layers on top” (I am sure you did…) at minute 8:30 if you want to here it.

I think that is totally immoral that a guys that all what did was print a tricoper and arrange with Chinese manufacturer for cheap electronics, pretend to be what they pretend to be!

But the truly important problem is not that. On both sites they are giving to understand that this is product that does not need any special attention or precaution, even less any experience! In a lot of moments things like “it always seemed like either mom or dad (the photographer) was missing from family pictures. We’re proud to announce the launch of The Pocket Drone to address these challenges. Many of our supporters are calling it the "GoPro of drones." “ are said. What! How can you compare a product like Arducopter to a GoPro camera? That just needs you to press a button to record! When in the documentation is said hundreds of times that this is something to take seriously (and I think is not said enough).
So I think this is actually a fraud, they are pretending to sell a thing that they are not selling, but even more important to my point of view is that for the moment there is 1200 people that has not any experience with drones that bought one (I say 1200 because there is 1200 totally RTF kits sold at the moment on Kikstarter).
So in a few months at least 1200 people will go out with a drone thinking that is as easy to control as a gopro. And they all, all without any exception will crash and god knows what else!
I find it really worrying, and I think that since we are the community that is actually behind that project (even though they pretend we’re not) we should take some actions about it. Not allowing that people is tricked, and not allowing not necessary accidents to happen.

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  • Carles, I completely agree with you.  I had originally defended the Pocket Drone, but a closer look really set off my bulls^&t meter.

    Looking at what AirDroids have done in the context of Kickstarter's Hardware and Product Design guidelines

    Show your work

    * "Projects must be clear about their state of development"

    The aerial video footage featured in the Pocket Drone campaign video, as conceded by AirDroids CEO Chance Roth here, was not shot with a Pocket Drone.  It was actually shot from a different type of multirotor craft featuring at least 2-axis stabilisation system. For this reason alone, it may be fair to say that the aerial video footage featured in the Pocket Drone campaign video is not representative of the state of development (or actual capabilities) of the Pocket Drone product, and therefore could be interpreted as having breached Kickstarter's Hardware and Product Design Guidelines for this reason alone.


    Misrepresentation of the Pocket Drone's aerial video capabilities, however,  is not limited to the Kickstarter campaign.  It is evident in other marketing initiatives in by the AirDroids team, as can be seen here (false claim that "it is the smallest drone capable of something the weight of a gopro" and onboard footage provided to  network by AirDroids is not representative of the Pocket Drone's performance).  Also, here is an example of the onboard footage provided by AirDroids to the people at TechCrunch, which is also evidently shot from a gimbal stabilised platform.  This, in my opinion, just adds to the false impression consumer's have been provided in terms of the Pocket Drone's performance.


    * "Projects must show details (photos, videos, sketches) of their progress so far, along with a prototype demonstrating the product's current functionality."

    Despite the fact that the Pocket Drone was flying with a gopro by CES 2014.  Onboard footage from the craft was omitted from the kickstarter campaign video in favour of higher quality footage captured using a different craft.

    Adding insult to injury, this substituted footage was labelled "Actual Pocket Drone Footage".  This was only corrected after the footage was questioned by Mustafa TULU here and confirmed by Michal here, after which time the original video was updated on the Kickstarter campaign page with the false claims omitted.  No other changes to the video were made and no announcement or acknowledgement of the change was made, nor does it appear that any effort had been made on AirDroids behalf to clarify this important distinction. But, I think it is important to note that the Pocket Drone had already amassed >350 backers by this time, having immediately eclipsed their $35k goal (overnight), their success was already sealed and the Pocket Drone was tracking to be a $1m campaign




    Despite many requests from backers as can be seen here, the AirDroids team only released the first and only piece of onboard footage on the 9th of February.  No further footage has been released at this stage, this is despite promised by the AirDroid's team such as:

    AirDroids (14th Jan) - "We hear you loud and clear. We promise to post lots of Pocket Drone footage before anyone's credit card is charged so everyone can make an independent evaluation of video quality."

    AirDroids (feb 7th) - "We will post at least one video by Tuesday, barring any significant weather events, and then we'll significantly ramp up our videos after that." (Evidently, it is not weather holding up the videos... In response to a question regarding about need for video showing performance in wind, TJ Jonhson said "I will work on getting some videos in the wind, but it is hard to get the wind to blow when I want it to... lol.")

    * "Projects must explain how the final design is likely to differ from the prototype, and include a production plan (i.e., how you're going to make it) and an estimated timeline."

    At this point, and with just 11 days to go until the campaign ends, there is still no footage available showing the Pocket Drone performing any of the tasks or applications they are actively promoting it is able to do.  These include:

    - Easy to use (as claimed over and over, like here)

    - Autonomous Flight

    - 'Follow Me' Feature

    - Video capture of children sports (as is claimed here).

    - Video capture of Action Sports (as was featured in the campaign video)

    - 20 minute flight time with Camera (as claimed here)

    - Aerial Footage Shot from the Pocket Drone in an outdoor environment

    No product simulations or photorealistic renderings

    * "Photorealistic renderings and simulations that could be mistaken for finished products or real events, however, are not allowed."

    Footage used in campaign video being substituted from a functionally different craft would seem to step outside this particular guideline also, not considering the false written claim which was subsequently removed.

  • There were two mentions, that I remember, about the props in the video -- alleged high efficiency, folding.

    My impression regarding the folding was a space/packing issue, not any advantage or innovation regarding propeller technology/engineering.

    Notice that they are using collet type prop mounts -- not that it is bad but they are falling out of favor and require more care for a good installation. This is not a good choice for the newbie crowd they are trying to reach out to.

    To be fair, the folding function will probably work on the new style prop mounts. After all, it is just a hub assembly.


  • How to those props deal with lead/lag and oscillations from asymmetrical loading without causing vibration?  I fly traditional helis too and without dampening they don't fly well.  If they are using a very similar system for their propellor hubs I think it will have issues in wind or flight other than hovering or very slow speed.  Even the tail rotors of some helis are now dampened.  I get these are fixed pitch blades and the issue is not as large as it is in variable pitch blades but it still will be there.  Also how is it proprietary when Curtis youngblood has a multi already in production using the same concept for attaching the blades?  And how is it proprietary when (like already stated) almost any heli in existence uses the same method?

  • People with zero experience are buying Phantoms all over the world, and its not that big deal. If they add a good manual it should be obvious how to fly with some doze of safety. Dji sold thousands of Phantoms to rookies and there were few situations with irresponsible pilots. I see an opportunity for 3DR and Diydrones, so we all can benefit. More beginners will buy copters based on open source AP, rather than closed Dji, and this will have a positive impact on number of developers, new iterations, better GCS's etc. And i have to admit that the Pocket Drone design is very clever. If not for my financial situation I would definitely be a backer as well. 

  • The prop claim is a bit of a stretch and certainly not revolutionary.

    The idea is on nearly every RC heli in production.

    I have read several threads in various places where someone decides to 'salvage' a broken prop in a similar way.

    In other news, the market will decide if the product will live or die. The history of flying things is littered with the advertising of now forgotten companies.

    Caveat emptor... but good luck to them.


  • 3D Robotics

    Just a quick note to thank Timothy for his post. I'm very much in support of what they're doing (I'm a backer!) and I feel that they have been clear that it's based on APM. The beauty of open source is that people are free to innovate around the basic platform, and I think the PocketDrone folks have done just that.  Whether they use our hardware or not, I'm pleased to see another successful adopter of the APM software platform.

    So I agree very much with Chistopher's point as well: "If anything, 3DRobotics, DIYDrones, and the open source community stands to gain from the growing market. "

    Thumbs up here. 


  • Nicely said Christopher.

  • This is a product in development, and while it is clear that they are using an APM, it is not compulsory that they market their product in such a way to highlight its use of open source software or hardware any more than companies like Linksys, Synology, TomTom, etc do with their open-source-based products.  The AirDroids folks will have to publish any modifications they make to the source code according to the GPL (to the benefit of the open source community), but they have no obligation to market that they're using an APM or the ArduCopter software inside. If anything, 3DRobotics, DIYDrones, and the open source community stands to gain from the growing market. 

    As for selling ready-to-fly drones to newbies - 3DRobotics is already doing that with the Iris. DJI, Blade, Walkera, and others are also selling ready-to-fly GoPro drones, all you need is a credit card. 

    The technology, the community, and the market has been growing rapidly. There's going to be more products like this, and there are going to be more newbies buying them. I'm not sure there's anything you can do about it besides try your best to educate others about the safe and ethical uses of drones, contribute to the source code, and develop your own original technology. 

  • I wanted to take a moment to respond to Carles comments posted above. First, we are huge fans of the DIY Drones community and everyone who has contributed to APM and ArduCopter, which is the flight controller we are using for the Pocket Drone. We are not trying to hide the fact that our system is using the APM, but rather to package it in a way that makes it accessible to a broader audience than traditionally engages with this technology. Many of you on this forum are experienced makers for whom assembling a custom frame and adding electronics is simple to do. I think it is easy to forget that for most people this is quite difficult, even from a kit, and a large set of consumers would like to be able to focus on using the technology rather than digging through forums to determine how to get it to operate. We're also working to make sure we include information in our packaging that will educate our consumers about safety best practices before they launch into the air. 
    Also, we think the Drone User Group Network plays a complementary role to DIY Drones in being an in person community alongside DIY Drones much larger and longer established virtual community. When we say the Drone User Group Network is the largest community dedicated to teaching people how to build and operate their own flying robots, we are simply referring to the fact that we are the largest community to our knowledge that puts on regular events where individuals can come and learn in person many of the things that are discussed here online. Perhaps we need to be clearer about the in person virtual distinction. I also want to clarify that the Drone User Group Network has no official connection to AirDroids. The AirDroids leadership met through the network and has taken inspiration from its members as well as the DIY Drones community, but they are completely separate entities.
    Our hope with AirDroids is to be able to take the amazing things people are doing in the broader drone community and make them available to new people. We felt that a business was the most sustainable way to accomplish that goal. I hope this response helps clarify our intentions and our deep respect for the accomplishments of everyone here on this forum. Thanks to all of you who have supported us, including a special thank you to Chris Anderson who was the first person to post about the Pocket Drone project.
  • Moderator
    Carles: I think you are way off on this matter, on nearly all points.
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