A company called Flybrix is putting legos on the wing.
The San Francisco startup today began selling build-a-drone kits for kids age 14 and up comprised of: LEGO bricks, boom arms and motors that don’t require soldering, and other off the shelf and Flybrix-designed parts.
Once assembled, Flybrix drones are lightweight and meant to be flown indoors. They can be operated with a Bluetooth flight control app for iOS or Android smartphones, or a manual flight controller purchased from the company.
Flybrix drones are also, notably, “crash-friendly,” meaning they can be re-assembled time and again as kids experiment with their designs, and learn how to pilot them.
Co-founders of the startup, Amir Hirsch, Robb Walters and Holly Kasun, want to get teens, or younger kids with adult supervision, interested in things like geometry, aerodynamics and electrical engineering.
The company was founded in 2015 and has been developing its technology at Lemnos Labs, a foundry for hardware startups in San Francisco.
Flybrix is selling the drones direct to consumers via its own website for an introductory price of $149 for a basic kit, and $189 for a deluxe kit. Orders taken now will ship immediately to customers, just in time for the start of the school year and well ahead of the holidays.
The basic kit includes about 40 pieces and instructions needed to build a small quadcopter. Assembly takes under fifteen minutes. Deluxe kits include more complex models and ideas and games that require kids to modify a basic design, and figure out how to make their own drones.
Flybrix’s Chief Play Officer Holly Kasun said the company isn’t officially partnering with LEGO, but has made its business known to LEGO and hopes that teens who use LEGO bricks to build drones will also try the massive toy company’s other STEM-related products, such as their LEGO Mindstorms kits.
Kasun also noted that LEGO bricks– because they’re so consistently manufactured and widely available– are used not just to inspire kids and get them building. They have long been used by mechanical and robotics engineers in labs for prototyping and design.
Flybrix cofounder Amir Hirsch attained 3 degrees in math and electrical engineering from MIT where he used LEGO products in the lab, which inspired the eventual creation of Flybrix, Kasun said.