Future Tense

A Drone Linked to a VR Headset Lets You Explore the Sky, Almost for Real

The Indiegogo campaign for the new FLYBi autonomous drone system touts plenty of cool features, but the clear winner is its first-person virtual reality goggles. For those of us who wish we could fly—everybody raise your hand—this could be the closest we get while still staying on the ground.

FLYBi’s 12-megapixel camera streams 1080-pixel high-definition video to a pair of HD LCDs in its VR goggles. The goggles track your head movements, so when you look up, down, or to the side for a different view, the drone gets you what you want to see. Eyes in the sky, indeed.

Then there’s the FLYBi system’s Helideck. FLYBi lifts off from the Helideck and comes back to land when you’re ready, or, when it runs out of power, it will automatically swap batteries by itself. The Helideck keeps three batteries on hand and it recharges them continuously when it’s plugged in. (It also has USB ports for charging other things, like the phone you use for controlling FLYBi.) The Helideck folds up to serve as a hard-shell carrying case for FLYBi.

FLYBi flies autonomously, without joysticks, guided by an app running on your phone. Pilots create its flight plan by picking the desired destination on a map, and then setting waypoints where they’d like FLYBi to pause and hover for an extended view. If FLYBi encounters any obstacles, it just navigates around them. When the mission’s accomplished, the drone returns to the Helideck.