Drone Control: Bringing an Astronaut’s Training and Experience to the Consumer Market • Fluidity
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Drone Control: Bringing an Astronaut’s Training and Experience to the Consumer Market

CLIENT

Fluidity Technologies is a startup led by Scott Parazynski, a former NASA astronaut who is bringing his experience operating some of the most sophisticated equipment on/above earth to the mass market.  Fluidity’s vision is to revolutionize the way we control aerial drones, along with other applications that will enhance the control interface between human and machine. Fluidity partnered with Motivo to accelerate development of the product from early ideation to product launch. 

CHALLENGE

Remotely-operated devices are incredibly advanced and continue to develop. However, there have not been many significant improvements in the human-machine interface used to control these devices. For example, the dual thumb-stick setup for piloting drones requires a significant learning curve to be able to pilot the drone in a controlled manner.  It also imposes a cognitive load on the operator to map the desired motion of the device to an arbitrary movement of the thumbs. The Fluidity-Motivo team was challenged with ideating, prototyping, and ultimately designing a solution, and then shepherding its transition to mass production.

MOTIVO’S SOLUTION

Motivo collaborated closely with Fluidity to define product requirements, iteratively test unique new features, and evaluate the existing state-of-the-art to ensure the result would be a truly disruptive new product.  Motivo’s rapid development process allowed Fluidity to evaluate a spectrum of design solutions to quickly identify how the product should look, feel, and behave in the hands of the user. Along the way, multiple novel electromechanical subsystems were developed, resulting in patented and patent pending innovations that have laid the groundwork for future Fluidity products. 

Leveraging in-house equipment and software tools, along with a network of vendor relationships built over the years, Motivo produced numerous engineering prototypes each increasing in fidelity and representation of the final product.  In addition, the engineering prototypes were subjected to functional testing and validation ranging from user experience (UX) testing, to EMI/radiation testing, to mechanical cycle testing and in-field flight testing. In parallel, Motivo supported Fluidity by sourcing demo-ready prototypes that were used to market the controller at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where the controller received a 2019 CES Innovation Award, the Digital Trends Emerging Tech Award and earned notoriety from several news outlets including The Verge, CNBC, andFast Company, among others.

After successful validation of the prototypes, Motivo worked with Fluidity to transition the design to high-volume production. Motivo supported production efforts by sending engineers to China to evaluate T0 and T1 units to ensure that production parts met performance targets and that the look and feel of the finished product matched the expectations set by Fluidity and its stakeholders. 

OUTCOME

Motivo was able to complete two major design iterations in ten months and help bring the final design to production with a total development cycle just over one year.  Interested in seeing the results?  Own the Fluidity FT Aviator® now by following this link: https://fluidity.tech/.  With ambitions well beyond just one product, Fluidity is already actively engaging Motivo to help co-develop the next line of products and features.

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