One of the problems with consumer drones is that unless you're using them to shoot video, they can actually get kind of boring after a while. Flying them pointlessly up and down and back and forth only stays interesting for so long. That's why a group of Slovakian entrepreneurs have created Drone n Base. It lets drone pilots race one another, engage in aerial dogfights, or play games like capture the flag.
Each Drone n Base kit contains one miniature smartphone-controlled quadcopter, a charger with two batteries, and a base that can be placed on the ground or hung vertically.
Both the copter and the base contain multiple infrared receivers and LEDs. This allows the system to "know" when the quadcopter has flown over the base, allowing that base (and others) to be used as a checkpoint in multi-drone races. If one of the drones misses a base, the pilots are alerted to the fact via their iOS or Android phones.
Other possibilities include playing capture the flag (where a virtual flag is captured by flying over a base), or a firefighting game in which the drone "fills up" by hovering over one base, then attempts to put out a virtual fire at another base by shooting at it with its infrared LED.
Additionally, the drones can shoot at one another with their LEDs, registering direct hits by causing the struck copter to shut off and fall down. They can also temporarily activate a virtual shield by flying over a base, which protects them from other drones' shots.
The quadcopter itself can fly for up to seven minutes on one charge of its 350-mAh lithium-polymer battery, and can be controlled from a maximum distance of 30 feet (9 m) via Bluetooth 4.0 – game data is shared between players via Wi-Fi. The base uses the same type of battery (that's why the kit contains two), and can run for up to one hour per USB charge.
The designers are currently raising production funds for Drone n Base, on Indiegogo. A pledge of US$125 will currently get you a kit, when and if they're ready to go – an onboard FPV camera may be added as a stretch goal. The planned retail price is $199.
You can see some prototypes in action, in the pitch video below.