Here we go again...

Another Kickstarter campaign for mini drones: Selfly

This time raising over $1 million dollars. The media went gaga over it and none seem to raise the very high risk of this project not delivering especially after many failed high profile, drone crowd funded projects. 

Like the Zano drone.

And of course, the Lily drone

And there are many still in the "yet to be delivered" stage. Why are drones so hard? Even a well venture backed company like 3DR has trouble gaining market traction. I can think of 3 reasons why:

1) Technical challenges remain despite more resources available. There are now more reference board design and open source code like Ardupilot, Snapdragon Flight, Intel Aero but integration of these components/code is difficult.

You have to probably handle the camera stabilization and smart features, and at the same time, ensure reliable link from phone to drone.

Personally, I have tried Wifi controlled drones before, the lag time is simply too much, and this issue is also not addressed by Selfly. In fact, if without any of the smart features, one can just buy a similar drone to what Selfly claims to do from China - there are many such drones around..

2) Manufacturing is a challenge for most teams without relevant experience. It is easy to prototype but much harder to design for manufacturing. And at the manufacturing line, teams have to come up with tests for quality. That is also a challenge because teams must determine a) what to test and b) how to test.

Even then, developing automated tests or tests that assembly workers can perform, is a huge challenge by itself. 

3) Race against time. Big names like DJI and Yuneec are innovating all the time. Consumer drones are their bread and butter. So they pour in resources to make the next generation drones.

Being big, they have more resources and experience therefore Kickstarter drones risk being irrelevant the moment they are launched. Worst, if they are delayed for 1 year, then the technology/features are most probably obsolete. Totally DOA. Even companies like GoPro faces this problem, much less start-ups. 

I wish Selfy all the best, perhaps finally, we can have a successful Kickstarter drone campaign. But I am not holding my breath.