You Can Now Build Your Own Drone Out of LEGO Pieces
Drones have become some of the hottest gadgets on the planet -- and easily some of the most useful. What could possibly make them better? Customizing them out of LEGO pieces.
[Image Source: Flybrix via MIT]
That was the goal for MIT alum Amir Hirsch. Like many creative adults who love to tinker, Hirsch frequently plays with LEGO pieces. He loves drones; he loves LEGO. Combining his passions seemed like the natural path. Hirsch founded Flybrix, a company that sells drone-making kits for young and old. The kits come with LEGO pieces and everything needed to build a drone. Users can recycle pieces, change around designs, and constantly experiment with new drone ideas.
"It lets you tinker around with LEGOs, come up with a design you like, and see it fly," Hirsch said.
Hirsch said the design leads to a ton of learning moments -- especially for aspiring engineers. The video above, called "The Wrong Brothers," demonstrates just that. Flybrix co-founders Robb Walters and Holly Kasun certainly had their own trials while developing the product. One of the biggest challenges came in from funding, as the trio decided to bypass crowdfunding entirely.
[Image Source: Flybrix via MIT]
"Just like the Wrong Brothers, the three of us have brought our company to life by learning through trial-and-error," the company noted. "We began in 2014 in a San Francisco hardware startup incubator with the idea to combine drone and computer vision technology in consumer products. We started out shopping for a drone that would offer us an open hardware system in a small package that didn't compromise on features. We didn’t find the perfect fit, so we developed and built our own."
— John Roushkolb (@jroushkolb) June 18, 2017
Flybrix kits range from $189 for a basic set to almost $250 for the deluxe kit. A joystick controller pack (just in case you'd need an extra) will cost $80.
"Flybrix is specifically designed to challenge everybody – from grade school to grad school," the website noted. "It offers a unique learning experience over a basic toy drone. The brain under the hood is a complete computer system that you can learn to program using the Arduino development environment. Flybrix is open-source. We publish our source code and electronic designs so you can go as deep into the details as you want!"
— Skytango (@skytangoteam) May 26, 2017
Last year, Flybrix sold over 8,000 drone sets. Hirsch anticipates being in retail chains by the end of 2017. They've even sold to STEM-intensive schools throughout the world. However, it's not just students tapping into Flybrix.
"I bet you retired pilots are our best demographic," Hirsch said.
When asked about his formula for success, ultimately Hirsch said it comes down to something even he couldn't engineer on his own. He referenced a blog post that he said inspired him in the early days of his startups, he told MIT news.
"You have to think about building up a market approach for how to get customers … and how to use technology to build a defensible position," he said. "Technology is not a prerequisite for business success, but marketing is."