Maker/Development
Eedu educational kit lets you roll your own drone

The military, commercial, and extreme sport applications of drone technology have dominated news headlines and drone feature sets for the past few years. As such, this versatile technology’s reputation has been reduced to either a war machine or a camera with wings.

Skyworks Aerial Systems gives people a chance to explore all sorts of drone possibilities with its Eedu drone assembly kit. Contained inside the Eedu kit are all the tools and parts necessary to put it together, so new users can assemble and start programming quickly while more intrepid users can opt to install their own hardware. While the drone is compatible with a wide array of open source hardware, it isn’t necessary to use them. The company’s Intel Edison-powered LUCI drone controller has all the hardware and sensors to act as its brains and still be open to expansion for more varied use.

After Eedu is assembled and can fly, users can sync it to Forge, a free, community driven cloud-based robotic development environment. With it, code newbies can program drone behaviors to Eedu using easy-to-combine “blocks” that contain code, while those with experience program it from scratch using Javascript or Arduino C. Forge not only compiles tutorials for new comers, but provide a platforms on which both new and established users can find new uses for Eedu and even seek real-time help using a peer-to-peer feature. An Eedu educational drone kit costs $499 and is expected to ship December 2015, provided the company’s $100,000 is met by July 1st, 2015.

While there are both comparably priced drones on the market, they don’t offer the level of customization Eedu does. The $499 Parrot BeBop Drone offers a 14 MP camera, built-in GPS, and video recording, but lacks all the openness and expandability of the Eedu platform. This relegates it to just a fancy camera with wings, and does nothing to engage and teach the user. The Parrot AR Drone Elite 2.0 Edition is a cheaper alternative, but only gains programming capabilities through a driver that may be too daunting for newbies to install and use, let alone learn to program. Eedu provides all of the above in one package, and its partnerships with companies like Intel and Seeed reinforce the company’s commitment to learning.

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