Modular Drone Form Factor

Extending Drone Capability Through Expandability

Posted September 1st 2017 by

Drones are increasingly becoming normalized in society and people are seeing drones in a much more positive way. Many companies are finding unique ways to deploy drones throughout all industries. Drones are for work, hobby, and gaming.

The question I want to answer here is where do drones go from here? What is the next evolution of the drone form factor? What are the future options people want and how do we deliver them quickly to market?

3rd Party Accessories

The quickest way to get the most variety of capability is to allow 3rd party integration. Apple made this iconic with the iPhone and the App store. It was no longer about the phone as much as it was about its capabilities via software provided by outside app developers. There is an app for that.

How I see this changing the drone form factor being a two fold process.

Hot Shoe

Your new drone will have a hot shoe on the top and bottom of the body where vendors can integrate attachments. You have the standard belly camera that comes with the drone, but the possibilities are near endless as to what other vendors will create. They just need the platform to build off of.

You no longer have to worry about what the next must have capability will be as now your platform will be open to hundreds of minds. Your form factor will be the platform others build from. Your drone becomes the next must have.

As a hot shoe implies, this will be powered by the batteries. To resolve the huge energy consumption, I outline below what would be your first drone accessory.

I can see many weather related accessories using both shoes.

Mappable Controls

Your controller will have mappable buttons so the accessory will be directly accessible via familiar controls. The drone app will also have an API that will allow the developer to map functions and outputs into the app. These will make the accessory seamless to the operation of the drone.

Engine Add-on

Your first accessory would be a petrol engine add-on. Pilots want to fly longer, carry more payload, and have more attachments, so you will need much more energy. I suggest your first attachment to be a small engine and fuel reservoir. This could be a Free Piston Engine.

This engine would charge the battery so no additional functional changes are required. The rear propeller arms would detach from body and move back and attach to the engine so weight is redistributed. Once attached, the software will determine when the engine needs to be on to provide energy. You can override this via the app so the engine is on while flying to destination, and off while executing its mission to maintain a lower noise threshold.

Not only will you extend the range and capability of the drone, you will increase duration of any mission profile previously limited to the number of batteries you were able to carry. Now you simply fill the fuel tank and off you go again.

Your mission profile just got limitless. 3rd party manufacturers are also now limitless in what they can deliver to the market as they are now not limited by the factor of energy.

Big Motors Big Blades

If you have a petrol engine you have more energy available. This gives way to the ability to have larger motors and larger blades for more lift, speed, and weigh capabilities.

Drone accessory manufacturers are no longer limited by energy, but also now not as limited by weight capability either. Your drone can have both hot shoes powering attachments from different manufacturers without worry of reduced lift.

Big Motors More Sensors

With bigger motors, you have room to attach sensors such as more advanced object detection for flight safety. Lights and other small accessories can be clipped onto the motor housing. This would be an excellent location to house discs for Drone Laser Tag

Ecosystem of Choice

Your drone now becomes the ecosystem of choice for others to build on. The same as the iPhone became the ecosystem for developers. It is not only the capability of the drone out of the box, nor the added capability from 3rd party manufacturers, but the capability extended from the capability able to be added on.

You will sell the drone body kit as well as your own accessories, but by allowing 3rd party attachments, you greatly expand your drone's capability without having to do all the development and research.

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