If it looks like an insect and flies like an insect and is virtually indecipherable from an insect to the human eye while in motion, it must be a palm-sized robot dragonfly with spying, advanced gaming, R&D, and security capabilities.
The TechJect Dragonfly's research and prototyping began with a $1,000,000 grant from the US Air Force, but company founders Emanuel Jones and Jayant Ratti don't want private users to wait years for the technology to trickle down to Wal-Mart's shelves, so they're running the Dragonfly as an Indiegogo project. Already awash in pledges totaling nearly 6 times their $110,000 funding request, with buy-ins continuing through December 31, 2012, it looks like you and I will indeed have access to TechJect's ultimate multi-purpose robotic insect this decade. Within the year, even, as anticipated ship dates are as early as July 2013.
Simple rundown: The TechJect Dragonfly is a tiny, wifi-enabled robotic arthropod controlled via iPhone, Android, or computer, and equipped to produce high-quality aerial photography, perform aerobatic maneuvers for gaming, and patrol autonomously for home security and surveillance. Depending on the model selected, the Dragonfly has up to 20 sensors onboard, the smallest and most comprehensive autopilots on the market, video cameras, a GPS system, and built-in gyroscopes. Gyroscopes. What a grand word. And did I mention all models are indistinguishable from their namesake insect during operation for maximal covertness in operation?
TechJet will manufacture 4 insect models, Alpha, Delta, Gamma, and Omega, each with slight variations in composition and ideal use.
- Alpha: Small and simple with a MARC-Basic flight computer and solenoidal actuators. Recommended for hobby & games, R&D (spying endeavors), and multi-robot.
- Delta: Strong and fast with a MARC-Basic flight computer and continuously variable transmission (CVT). Recommended for advanced gaming, R&D, and multi-robot.
- Gamma: Versatile and re-configurable with a MARC-2 flight computer and CVT. Recommended for R&D, prototyping, and programming.
- Omega: "Armed to the teeth!" with a MARC-3 flight computer and CVT. Recommended for advanced indoor/outdoor R&D (James Bond level spying endeavors) and gaming.
Robot Dragonflies will also have a number of associated Apps for users to download from Google Play and App stores to perform pre-defined operations, such as indoor mapping and automated patrolling. A Software Development Kit (SDK) will be up for grabs for the tech savvy to create their own Apps and Dragonfly feats of supremacy.
The basic Alpha Dragonfly model requires an Indiegogo pledge of $119. Buyers will select a color from Red, Green, Blue, White, Black, Yellow, or Silver and receive a guaranteed noiseless, ready-to-fly insect with all flight accessories and SDK. For an additional $30, TechJect will add 3 additional pairs of wings for altered looks and performances.
The Delta Dragonfly Super Flyer package runs $249, and includes the stronger, faster model, as well as a spare set of wings and a set of high endurance wings, an extra battery, and a 4-port on the go Li-Po charger. Even higher performance Gamma and Omega packages are currently still available for $399 and $599 respectively.
Note that the above prices are valid for the duration of TechJect's Indiegogo campaign only, and quantities are selling out quickly. Retail prices once the Dragonflies have undergone full manufacture will be higher (i.e., double in some cases).
December 2013 Update: The Dragonfly is now in production for crowdfunding backers, and will presumably be available for direct purchase through the TechJect Website in the future--follow the link below for more information.