The Fleye Is the World’s Safest Drone

All the fun, none of the rotor-drawn blood.

Drones, in their classic configuration, are fairly dangerous things. The blades they need in order to fly, those mini helicopter rotors, can cause huge damage to anything organic—trees, birds, human hands—they encounter. This July, for example, singer Enrique Iglesias attempted to wave at a photographic drone during a concert in Tijuana. The drone dropped too low and ended up both fracturing and slicing open the entertainer’s hand to a degree that it required surgery.

Luckily, for those who appreciate cheap aerial photography and annoying their neighbors, there’s a hot Kickstarter campaign whose founders are promising to reinvent the drone and remove that bodily risk. This is the Fleye and it looks, for all the world, like a robot soccer ball. Fleye promises that spherical exterior is pure function. Because all rotors are covered, it’s safe to bump into, and even interact with, the Fleye. That covering also protects the machine’s delicate internals when it makes the inevitable crash landing. Tech-wise, the Fleye is simple. Instead of a remote, users simply download an app and control their mini ‘copter from a screen. In addition to direction, the app also controls the Fleye’s camera mode: selfie, panorama and “virtual tripod” are just three.

Most interestingly (or dystopic), the Fleye has built in a computer, whose dual-core microchips are as powerful as those on some PCs. That allows the little drone to complete autonomous missions—does that mean spying?—while its owner attends to other, less prying work. The makers, techies themselves, also made sure that their programming was open, allowing developers to tailor the Fleye’s operation to more specific needs: film, recon, play.

Us? We’d eschew the programming, throw a sheet over the Fleye and have ourselves an honest-to-god ghost.