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Airblock: A Shape Shifting Entry-Level Drone

Makeblock's new modular flying device takes on variable hovercraft forms

by David Graver
on 24 October 2016

Airblock might not have a 4K camera but that's far from the point of this new hovercraft device. Not only is it an entry-level drone in terms of price, it also aims to teach young fliers building and coding as well. Airblock's magnetic, modular format means that six blade modules can be affixed to a control core and hovercraft base in multiple ways. The hexagonal design of each module prevents the blades from bumping into anything external, and as each module is composed of lightweight, specifically engineered foam accidental crashes aren't a disaster. But that's just a portion of the value proposed by Kickstarter darling, robotics start-up Makeblock, creator of the Airblock.

Of equal importance, Makeblock has incorporated code-to-fly functionality. This means that when controlling Airblock from the Makeblock app (available for iOS and Android) users can drag different blocks of commands together into a control center and then let the device turn, roll and move forward on its own in stunt-like fashion. As coding continues to become an important educational tool these basic steps make it exciting and accessible. That said, one can also just use the joystick controls and guide the device through six minute-long adventures, traveling up to 16 feet high, and 50 feet away from the user. For extra fun, there's also a versus mode that allows two drones to race. It's a beginner's device that might not appeal to experts, but makes up for that with its educational features.

Airblock is available for the early-bird price of $99 on Kickstarter now, with shipment expected in February 2017. It's not only already fully-funded, but has more than doubled its $100K goal, with 50 days still to go at time of publish.

Images courtesy of Makeblock

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