Which came first, the drone or the PowerEgg?
Conventional drones are often billed as portable, though they're also often a collection of rods, rotors, and other bits and pieces that are perfect for catching on things and getting tangled. To make taking drones into the backcountry a bit less onerous, Beijing-based Powervision Robot has taken the gubbins of a quadcopter and built them into a giant PowerEgg that folds up into one smooth package shaped like a cackleberry for transport.
The product of 18 months of development, the PowerEgg is PowerVision's first mainstream commercial drone and draws on technology developed for the company's industrial drones. According to the developers, the egg design is not only to allow the quadcopter to act as its own carrying case, but also for compactness and stability.
When switched off, the PowerEgg folds up into a smooth ovoid shell, but when ready for flight the sides split and unfold into landing gear and arms for the folding rotors. Meanwhile, the bottom of the egg opens to reveal a 360-degree panoramic 4K HD camera on a three-axis gimbal. According to PowerVision, the rotors are larger than usual for comparable drones, which required a degree of re-engineering.
PowerVision hasn't released full specs for the PowerEgg, but the company says that it's designed to be lightweight and small enough to be carried in a backpack. The camera system not only provides long-range, real-time video, but also works with "optical flow" sensors for indoor navigation.
Along with the PowerEgg comes a remote control that the company claims is easy-to-use and intuitive. This is part of its philosophy of reducing the learning curve needed to learn drone operation with the eventual goal of producing a system that a five-year old could handle.
"Powervision wanted to create a beautiful yet functional design for the PowerEgg," says Powervision CEO Wally Zhen. "We think the oval shape is not only clean and pure but also has the structural and functional benefits. This simple yet vital design means that this is more than a flying robot but a work of art."
The PowerEgg will be available later this year at a price that has yet to be announced.
The video below introduces the PowerEgg drone.