Electronics

Fluidity Promises a Better Way to Fly Your Drone

Unless you’ve spent a big chunk of your youth playing video games, or perhaps flying R/C planes, the two joysticks of a game-like controller aren’t the most intuitive way to fly a drone. I got an interesting demo of the Shift controller at CES in 2016 that looked promising, but it doesn’t seem to have ever come to market. Now, a startup founded by a former NASA astronaut and pilot is taking aim at making your drone flying easier and more fun.

Fluidity Technologies has just announced its Aviator drone controller. The brainchild of Scott Parazynski, it makes the seemingly obvious step of using a single, purpose-built joystick for controlling DJI drones.

Fluidity Aviator

For anyone who has ever used a gaming joystick designed for controlling flight simulators or airplane-based games, the Aviator will look familiar. It is a single, large stick that fits in your hand, with a variety of additional controls you can operate with your thumb, fingers, or your other hand. You can hold it yourself–perhaps with one hand on the stick, and one supporting the base–or mount it on a tripod or flat surface. Your phone is clamped to either side, depending on whether you’re right- or left-handed.

Moving the stick left, right, forward, or back intuitively navigates your drone in the same direction. There is a thumb-based control for altitude, and twisting the stick will turn the drone. For those who have used an Osmo or Ronin to control a camera, or even a regular gaming joystick, it should be a pretty short learning curve. In fact, looking at the Aviator, it makes me wonder why DJI hasn’t introduced a product like it, especially since their gimbal control app is just a different version of their drone control app.

 

The Fluidity remote is chock full of controls customized for drone operation

DJI-Compatible Via Your Current Remote

The Aviator doesn’t replace your current remote, which is probably a good thing. DJI has put a lot of tech and intelligence into its remotes. It connects to your remote, which you can hang from the Aviator’s base station via a lanyard. It has its own app for flying, though, that has been customized to make use of the unique features of the Aviator joystick, and presumably for manual flying. From early screenshots, the app’s UI looks very clean and fairly similar to the layout of DJI’s own GO app.

Fluidity’s Flight app for Aviator looks clean and functional

Yes, It’s a Kickstarter

I know that I just wrote a story about how we’ve gotten pretty skeptical of Kickstarter projects, as many don’t ever come to fruition, but this one seems eminently doable and well thought out. The Fluidity Aviator is live on Kickstarter now, with early adopter pricing of $225, half of the expected retail price of $450. On the one hand that seems expensive for a joystick, or even a remote, but for those who spend a lot of time flying their drones, it might be a worthwhile investment. I look forward to being able to go hands-on with one and report back.

Now Read: DJI Launches Drool-Worthy Mavic 2 Pro, Zoom Drones, Hands On With the Parrot Anafi Portable Drone: Can It Unseat DJI’s Mavic?, Hands On With the DJI Mavic Pro: A Serious Drone That Fits in Your Daypack.

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