Soar through the sky like a bird (sort of) with this paper aeroplane that streams live footage to a VR smartphone headset.
Remember those origami creations you used to chuck at the back of your friend’s head in Maths? They just grew up (but if you’ve read this far, you probably didn’t).
PowerUP FPV is the world’s first paper aeroplane drone that turns your phone into a VR cockpit. With a rotating wide-angle camera on board, PowerUP FPV can transmit live-stream footage, record video, and take stills while it soars through the sky.
That’s pretty standard for a drone, but with PowerUP FPV, the cool part lies in a gadget you already have, your phone. Simply slot your smartphone into the head-mounded display (Google Cardboard), strap it on like a pair of goggles, and your head suddenly becomes the controller for your very own birds-eye VR world.
You’ll see everything the aeroplane sees in real-time, and your head movements alone will make PowerUP FPV swoop, dive, and soar like an eagle. As well as turning into a VR display, your smartphone will also act as a virtual cockpit. When the aeroplane’s in flight, you’ll see stats like altitude, speed, and battery life on the screen, along with system status information like battery and WiFi signal.
The plane itself has a range of just over 300-feet, WiFi permitting, and can reach top speeds of around 20mph. Should you choose to freestyle it in autopilot mode, PowerUP FPV is fitted with smart sensors to ensure safe and easy flying. This makes it sturdier in windy conditions and reduces the risk of stalling, spiral diving or crashing.
If the aeroplane does decide to remain true to its classroom roots and takes a nose-dive towards the nearest unassuming person or obstacle, there’s a clever crash detection feature. It’ll shut off its rotating blades and motor if it senses it’s about to meet trouble.
For a more hands-on flying experience, you can also use your smartphone like a gaming controller, if you wish.
Build-wise, you’ll probably be relieved to hear that PowerUp FPV isn’t actually made from paper. It’s crafted from durable carbon-fibre with a nylon reinforced frame to survive the elements. It does, however, look exactly like the fold-up masterpieces of your youth, and can even be customised like a real paper aeroplane with some folding trickery to give it better speed or control.
The only tiny caveat we have at this point is PowerUP FPV’s air time. Its hot swap battery only gives it ten minutes of continuous flight before it needs a boost via a micro USB cable. And while that’s considerably longer than any real paper aeroplane we’ve ever launched into the air, it’s not much in personal drone terms.
A small price to pay, we suppose, for the ultimate childhood toy upgrade.
You can jump on board for your very own PowerUP FPV with cardboard goggles here for $199 (£135). After successfully raking in enough funding to go into products, it has a shipping date set for August 2016.