If you like the idea of remotely-piloting a paper airplane, then you really out to check out the PowerUp 3.0 – it's a motor/prop/rudder kit that you add to an existing paper plane, allowing you to control it via a smartphone app. Should you like your R/C aircraft a little techier and sturdier, however, Trident Design's Carbon Flyer might be more to your liking. It has the form factor of a paper plane, but features carbon fiber construction, LED running lights, and an onboard video camera.
Like the PowerUp, the 14.7-inch (37.3-cm)-long Carbon Flyer is controlled by an iOS/Android app. Using Bluetooth 4.0, that app relays commands to the aircraft from a distance of up to 80 yards (73 m). Users select left or right turns by tilting the phone to either side, and control the throttle (which causes the plane to climb or dive) using an on-screen slide control.
Power is provided by a 3.7-volt 150-mAh lithium-polymer battery, which provides about three minutes of flight time per charge. If users wish to buy extra batteries, they can swap them in on the spot, instead of waiting to recharge before flying again.
Turns are executed via thrust vectoring, by varying the output of the Flyer's two 7-mm coreless motors. Each of those wing-mounted motors has an integrated LED, one of which is red and the other of which is green. This allows users to tell which way the plane is pointing, when viewing it from a distance in low-light conditions.
The camera shoots 640 x 480 standard-definition video, and does not stream to the user's phone. Instead, it records to an onboard SD Card for subsequent viewing.
The plane's wings are bonded to its body using a carbon nanotube-enhanced adhesive, which was developed in collaboration with carbon nanotech firm OCSiAl. According to Trident, the bonds are "stronger than steel welds." It also features a nose cone made from good ol' plastic, to help protect it in crashes.
Trident Design – which also brought us the Coolest cooler – is now raising production funds for the Carbon Flyer, on Indiegogo. A pledge of US$89 will get you one, when and if they're ready to go. The planned retail price is $149.
You can see the Flyer in action, in the pitch video below.