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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Rookie Drone Crash

Comments (30)

I’m fascinated with drones. I’ve never been a model airplane guy and my model rocket phase lasted about a month when I was 10. But drones feel like something different, since I can program them to do what I want them to go do, rather than have to control them with a controller. My current goal is to program a Taco Drone to go from the 2nd floor balcony outside of my office to T/ACO, hover for a few minutes while they attach lunch to it, and return to my balcony.

We recently invested in 3D Robotics so I went online and bought a 3DR Iris quadcopter. We got an early version a month or so ago and some of the gang in my office – especially Dane, Nick, and Eugene – have been flying it around. Dane appears to have mastered it since his instructions to me included stuff like “don’t press that button” and “don’t move that lever.”

Yesterday he brought the Iris up to my place in Keystone for me to play around with. It was at the end of a longer meeting on another project we are working on. I wanted to just program the drone to do stuff, but Dane insisted that I learn how to fly it manually first. So I did.

The results were predictable – a tree jumped out and got in the way.

In comparison, here’s how it’s supposed to work. Now if someone would finish up that jetpack I’ve been waiting for.

  • Charlie Wood

    So cool. Did the first crash cause any damage?

    Post more videos! Like you, I’m fascinated by the programmability of these things. I want two of them and a Siri interface so I can say, “Zeus, Apollo, patrol!”

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      The only damage was a snapped arm, which is easy to replace ($12).

    • http://www.kineplay.com/ben Ben Milstead

      LOL, love the Magnum reference–

  • http://www.startupmanagement.org/ William Mougayar

    I’m fascinated by drones and drone applications. Did you watch the talk with Parrot’s CEO Henri Seydoux at LeWeb 2 weeks ago? It was funny. He wants to put drones that crawl your walls.

  • http://rfreeborn.blogspot.com/ rfreeborn

    I’d suggest that this wasn’t a drone crash as you were actively flying it when it went down. Drone = pre-programmed and everything else is – in the end – a remote control vehicle of one kind or another.

    Get’s under my skin like a splinter when the press goes on and on about drones in combat – not one of those things is performing an attack without a human behind the controls.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Technically you are correct. But it was my warmup for the programming – where it would actually be a drone, not a human controlled quadcopter.

  • Steve Coulton

    Awesome views! is the drone fitted with go pro camera?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Yup

  • http://www.TalkingPointz.com Dave Michels

    It’s all part of natural evolution. Before we get our jetpacks, we must first learn about the danger of trees. Stick to it.

  • http://www.cornfedsystems.com/ Frank W. Miller

    Target practice!! Better not take that out to eastern Colorado…

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Indeed. That was an epic Colbert episode.

  • http://byJess.net/ Jess Bachman

    Awesome! You might want to look into the drone planes as well. I have read that they are not much more expensive than the copters and get much better range, both battery and distance.

  • kipsteele

    I had the same thing happen when learning to fly an RC helicopter but instead of snow there was the sound of the small parking lot .

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Boom.

  • Andy Moeck

    Wow. Great – Question? How loud is the drone when it’s flying UP I.E. not hovering?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Not very. Much quieter than a lawnmower.

  • RBC

    Have you seen this awesome TED video involving programing quadcopters … They don’t say but this level of precision only seems possible in a controlled environment at the moment.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/raffaello_d_andrea_the_astounding_athletic_power_of_quadcopters.html

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      I haven’t but will go look.

  • http://www.tellagence.com/ Matt Hixson

    wow – I think you should have started in a more open space – like Kansas. You didn’t make it very far. :)

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Did you see the second video? Dane managed the takeoff perfectly from the same place. But yes – rookie me should have started in a field.

  • Kelly James

    You are fascinated w/ drones and I’m fascinated with T/ACO. Specifically the red snapper and cheese t/acos. I live in Mexico and still there is nothing like T/ACO. When you figure out how it can deliver lunch to your office, hopefully we can work out a longer range delivery!

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      These drones won’t go that far, but maybe I’ll get one that can!

  • http://www.cornfedsystems.com/ Frank W. Miller

    I’ve been thinking about your use of the word “drone” and I’ve come round to the view that it may be imprecise. In my mind what separates a drone from a simple radio controlled device is that a drone displays some level of self controlled autonomy. I think the toy you are playing with is completely radio controlled is it not? For example, you can’t tell it to just “hover” or “fly to this point in space and orbit.” These latter commands require the device to execute a sequence of commands without intervening control, possibly using sensors to adjust things like travel path based on external conditions that are not input from the human controller. If you have to do everything to make it fly, its just a radio controlled vehicle, not a drone. Thoughts?

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      It’s actually a drone – 100% programmable.

      • http://www.cornfedsystems.com/ Frank W. Miller

        I saw the “autopilot” that they advertise. That would give the vehicle some of the “autonomy” I’m referring to. Are you using that with the vehicle? If so, why did you crash in the first video?

        • http://www.feld.com bfeld

          I didn’t use it in autonomous mode – I just flew it manually. In hindsight, that was dumb.

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld
  • http://www.howardlindzon.com howardlindzon

    sweet

    • http://www.feld.com bfeld

      Boom. Drones.

  • freds4hb

    Loving the acquisition (finally realized why I wasn’t getting updates (shakes fist at Feedly)) so cool! That twin motor thrust layout looks fantastically familiar too Brad! :)

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