Early this year we first heard about PowerUp 3.0, a kit that converts an ordinary paper airplane into a powered, smartphone-controlled flying aircraft. Inventor Shai Goitein has made some improvements to the product since then, and recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance its large-scale production. At the time of this posting, he's exceeded his funding goal by over 960 percent.
The original PowerUp 3.0 prototype consisted of a processor and capacitor joined to a propeller and tail rudder by a carbon fiber shaft, all of which could simply be clipped onto a user-supplied folded paper airplane made from regular A4 or 8.5 x 11-inch copier paper. It communicated with a flight control app on a paired iOS device via Bluetooth 4.0, allowing a human pilot to steer it left and right, and up and down.
The improved version (3.1?) replaces the capacitor with a micro USB-rechargeable battery – room has been made for it by reducing the size of the circuit board. Together with a new energy management system, this reportedly boosts flight time past the original's claimed 10 minutes. Goitein has also added a feature that automatically boosts thrust when the plane banks left or right, making it simpler to control.
Additionally, its range has been increased to over 180 feet (55 m).
If you're interested in getting one of the first production PowerUp 3.0's, you can do so with a pledge of US$30. For $40, you'll also get a portable power pack for recharging the battery on-site.
"I think we surprised the crowd with something no one would believe can be done," Shai tells us. "In all cultures everyone knows how to make a paper airplane, it is like riding a bike, so this becomes a very personal and lovable idea."
The kit can be seen in use in the pitch video below.
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