Crash-friendly Lego drones teach the benefits of failure
It's hard to imagine a scenario in which parents would be happy for kids to slam their brand-new drones into a wall, but one new startup is aiming to encourage budding robotics enthusiasts to do exactly that. Announced today, Flybrix's drones come in the form of Lego kits that kids build themselves, crash and build again, all for the thrill of bringing high-flying creations to life and developing engineering skills and creativity in the process.
Flybrix's kits come just as a regular set of Lego bricks might, but with a few hardware components packed inside. In addition to an assortment of the standard plastic pieces and a Lego man/pilot-to-be, the kits include things like motors, propellors, a pre-programmed Arduino flight control board and battery.
This means that creative kids using Lego to build the greatest spaceships the world has ever seen can then actually fire them up to see how they fly. Flybrix says it takes 15 minutes or less to piece a drone together depending on how elaborate the design is, and that should it fail in flight it is built to withstand the impact.
"The circuit board and other components are protected by the Lego frame which breaks apart and absorbs the energy of a crash," Holly Kasun, Flybrix COO tells New Atlas. "Our beta testing turned up some lost Legos – which is why we include a few extras – but no broken parts. Keep in mind that the drone is small and light, which helps to keep crash energies low."
Flybrix's basic kit is priced at US$149 and relies on smartphone controls to pilot the drone. This is handled by a companion app that connects over Bluetooth and comes preloaded with 10 games intended to encourage kids to perfect both their flying and building skills. A deluxe kit is also available, the only difference being an included remote controller, and is priced at $189.
Both are available via the Flybrix website from today. You can check out Flybrix's promo video below.