This way budding stuntmen! Shock absorbing and magnetic, the Airblock blade modules are combined and turned into drones, hovercrafts or rolling devices. In short, the maker version of Transformers.
Sending a drone to fly without risk in the air, on the ground or in one’s swimming pool? It is the very principle of Airblock, a DIY kit composed of magnetized blade modules that are assembled in the blink of an eye—15 seconds according to the manufacturer—to build flying drones and other floating or rolling devices. Intended for children aged 8 and over, the modules offer the advantage of withstanding shocks thanks to their foam structure. Most importantly, they can be programmed to loop the loop and perform other aerobatic stunts without crashing.
Airblock presentation video:
With a selling price announced at $129 (€123.50), Airblock is the latest in accessible and general public projects developed by Makeblock, a DIY robotics start-up founded in 2011 in Shenzhen, the Chinese Silicon Valley that produces 80% of electronic devices worldwide. Launched by a dual participative funding campaign that ended on December 16 on Indiegogo and Kickstarter, Airblock collected $830,385 (€795,237) having asked for $600,000 (€574,602).
Fun and educational, the starting kit is composed of a main module and several blade modules. They can be assembled directly in hexacopter mode or in hovercraft mode but in truth there is a multitude of combinations. Especially when you combine them with Lego bricks.
Ultralight (140g for the drone mode), the modules are made of Styrofoam in order to protect the blades, but also to allow the device to plow into walls without getting smashed. In case of an inevitable shock, the modules quite simply split up.
The performances are not really thought out to launch into piloting competitions. In drone function, the flight time is 6 mn, the speed reaches a limit of 1.5 m/s and the maximum flying height does not exceed 10m. No big deal. For the manufacturer, the primary objective is to initiate children into the fundamentals of electronics and computer code.
The programming and control interface functions under IOS or Android and communicates with the modules via Bluetooth. Controlled from an application installed on a tablet or a smartphone, it allows you either to pilot the modules directly, like a joystick, or to program their flight or trajectory, thanks to simple control blocks positioned on the control panel to turn, move forward, pause, etc.
Deliveries have been promised for February 2017. Small snag: some contributors are already wincing because delivery costs are at their own expense. One will however be able to get a more precise idea of the kit during the next Consumer Electronics Show (CES), from January 5-8, 2017 in Las Vegas, where Makeblock has promised a demo of Airblock.
The Airblock campaign on Indiegogo