How does any drone company, let alone ones like Yuneec and Parrot, which have 10 years of experience under their belts, compete with DJI, the Goliath of drones?
By chopping two rotors off and doubling the flight time of even DJI’s best consumer drone, the Mavic 2. And having guts, the company tells me.
The company behind the V-Coptr Falcon is Zero Zero Robotics. Drone geeks know them as the maker of the Hover Camera Passport. I was the first journalist in the world to see the carbon fiber-enclosed “flying camera” before it later landed at Apple Stores.
In late 2016, DJI was still finding its footing. The Mavic Pro hadn't launched yet and the Hover Cam was one of the smallest, safest, and most intelligent drones. The Hover Camera wasn’t perfect, but the innovations inside, co-created by Stanford Ph.D’s Mengqiu “MQ” Wang and Tony Zhang, paved a way forward for the Chinese startup.
There were heavy rumors that Snap, Inc. had secretly acquired Zero Zero Robotics in 2017, but it's clear now that it never happened. Two sources familiar with the matter told Input the two companies were indeed in talks, but the deal fell apart. And so here Zero Zero Robotics is, in 2020, solo with a new drone.
Inspired by the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, the V-Coptr Falcon uses a patented dual rotor system to take off and cut through the sky. Coupled with Zero Zero Robotic's own secret gyroscopic technology, the drone can achieve extra-long flight time.
It’s estimated DJI commands over 70 percent of global drone market share. Intel, Yuneec, Parrot, and GoPro round out the top five, but their share of the drone pie is puny in comparison, with single-digit market share percentages for each.
"First, you need to fix all the shortcomings. For example, we didn't have the ability to do 7km transmission, but now we can. I think on all the tech aspects of competent aerial photography drones, the Falcon meets all the standards.
That's not enough. If I build a me-too product like many of the other drone players, the market will not respond to that. What's the point?"
The V-Coptr Falcon wasn't the only bi-copter drone Zero Zero Robotics has ready to go. To showcase just how aerodynamic its bi-copter drone design is, the company made a smaller version that's 249 grams (same weight as the DJI Mavic Mini) and just under the legal limit to require registration with the Federal Aviation Administration.
“This is not a finished and final product. It’s just a concept product for now; it lasts up to 50 minutes as well. We want to show bi-copters are so much more efficient that we can get 50 minutes on this guy, too. Actually, at the press event where we launched [these drones], it flew for 56 minutes [laughs].”