Phenox Makes A Drone More Of A Companion By Dropping The Controller

Drones are great, but for the most part, they can get old pretty quickly. A new Kickstarter project wants to throw some additional variety into the mix with a programmable, “intelligent” drone that acts as a platform for apps, too. The Tokyo-based project features hardware you’ll likely find familiar – it’s a quad-copter model, but in a smaller package that fits roughly in your hand. But the secret sauce is in its ability to operate fully autonomously, without any controllers.

The Phenox uses onboard cameras, including a front-facing and bottom-facing module, as well as a mic to detect voice and motion and change its behavior based on those inputs. It’s a Linux-based device as well, and you can edit programs directly on the SD card it uses for storage and reboot to make changes on the fly. It uses two open-source software libraries for computer vision and voice recognition, which come pre-installed.

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A library, complete with tutorials and sample code are available on if you don’t want to start from scratch, too. The whole goal of the project is to create an open source platform that anyone can contribute to in order to make drones and aerial robots more flexible than they are with current controller-based limitations.

The creators of Phenox are AI PhD student Ryo Konomura, and AI Masters student Kensho Miyoshi. The project is seeking a total of $5,000 for its project, but has already raised over $20,000 from early backers in just a single day. The anticipated ship date of the device is August of this year, with a full developer laboratory model available at the $750 level.