Vision Aerial is located in Bozeman Montana, manufacturing remote aerial platforms. Our first product is a TriCopter named, SwitchBlade. TriCopters, much like QuadCopters, HexaCopters and OctoCoptors are part of the MultiCopter genre of aircraft. MultiCopters utilize multiple rotors and state-of-the-art processor based flight controllers to keep them aloft.
Unhappy with the current options in the market the design of the SwitchBlade was driven by need. The SwitchBlade has been conceived, designed and manufactured in the US. Only basic off-the-shelf electronics are purchased outside the US.
Problems with current RC helicopters:
- Large RC helicopter (500+ size) are extremely dangerous, even lethal.
- Require advanced piloting skills to fly.
- Difficult and vulnerable to transport.
- Require intimate knowledge of mechanical tuning.
- Are extremely prone to damage.
- Expensive and very time intensive to repair.
- Have short flight times.
- Require elaborate modifications for aerial photography / videography.
Primary Features of the SwitchBlade:
- Safety The relatively slow tip speeds of the rotors mean they carry drastically less energy than a standard RC helicopter. We've tested the full throttle brunt these on ourselves, and while its not a pleasurable experience, we are no worse for the ware. We felt this was a necessary step to ensure the safety of our product.
- Open architecture No secrets here, all the components are easily swapped out as future technologies become available. Why waste a cheap plastic craft every time an upgrade becomes available? Why not use a well engineered chassis over and over again? Help the environment and your wallet!
- Precision Chassis Made of aircraft grade aluminum, stainless steel hardware and laser cut acrylic, the entire chassis is produced in the US by ultra precise CNC equipment.
- Collapsible Designed to be both easy to transport and easy to store, the spring loaded arms simply and smoothly fold back and are retained by two powerful rare earth magnets.
- Mechanically simple Aside from the folding arms there are only four major moving components. Three rotors and one tail (yaw) servo. Other than balancing new props there is virtually no mechanical tuning required.
- Advanced flight features The "Pro" version comes with the state-of-the-art 3D Robotics APM2.5 flight controller. This controller has limitless features and a strong online following. It can be programmed to fly hands-off GPS guided missions via Michael Oborne's free mission planner software (PC Required). It can also provide a host of controller operated features including three dimensional position holding, return to launch and various flight profiles at the flick of a switch.
- Relatively easy to fly All remotely controlled aircraft require some level of piloting skill. In the world of RC helicopters the SwitchBlade is similarly easy to fly as a "fixed pitch helicopter" much like those you see at the mall kiosks. However, don't undervalue piloting skill, the SwitchBlade is not a $20 disposable mall special, and while it is much safer than large RC helicopters it is still a flying craft capable of 40+mph speeds. Vision Aerial will publish a YouTube channel with a series of training episodes shortly after the product is launched, we strongly recommend you protect your investment and reduce your personal liability by training thoroughly.
- Dampened / Interchangeable payload deck The payload deck or "Deck" provides protection for the electronics, carries a variety of payloads and is fully dampened for a vibration free environment. Three simple wing nuts and you can change from a camera deck to a lightweight acrobatics deck or to a deck that carries whatever your imagination can conjure up. Versatility is key to usefulness.
TriCopter vs QuadCopter
QuadCopters are great and solve many of the RC helicopter issues listed above, they are also slightly simpler as other than the rotors they have no moving parts. TriCopters however, fly more like an airplane, yielding a more natural feel when piloting. With only three rotors they experience less "rotor wash" when descending vertically. They also utilize a servo to control the angle of the tail rotor which gives stronger and smoother yaw authority, this is particularly useful when filming to provide smooth and quick horizontal panning. The SwitchBlade is also extremely easy to collapse and transport, a feature which most QuadCopters do not share. Lastly and arguably most importantly, is orientation. As any RC helicopter or MultiCopter pilot will tell you, one must know which direction the craft is facing (its orientation) to safely fly it. The very symmetric nature of most Quad/Hex/OctoCopters tend to make it very easy to lose orientation after 50ft or so. The SwitchBlade's orientation is clearly visible all the way to legal altitude limit of 400ft.
Start-up companies often face a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma where enough orders are needed to make minimum production quantities to get started but have trouble getting orders without inventory to deliver quickly. Typically we look to Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors or are fortunate enough to have personal resources to get past this speed bump.
Well, in Vision Aerial's case, we looked to the new and exciting world of crowdfunding. We choose to use Kickstarter, which allowed those interested in a SwitchBlade to "pledge" for one. After our 30 day campaign, our minimum financial goal was exceeded by 212%!
Please see our "Honored Backers" page to see all those who helped get us off the ground!