Why Made for Solo Matters
Today we launched our “Made for Solo” program. The short of it is that MFS supports companies that want to leverage the Solo Smart Drone platform to make and market their own drone accessories.
You could say that we built Made for Solo into Solo. From the beginning we designed Solo to be an open platform that would encourage and enable people and companies around the world to innovate and add to its features and capabilities.
This was a promise to our customers: The Solo you buy today is more than just a drone; it’s a platform that will only get better with time. You won’t have to go out and buy Solo 2 for the latest technology. And we’re happy to say that over the coming weeks the Solo platform will start delivering on that promise.
The term “platform” has been really overused, though. It’s nearly lost its meaning. So here’s a punchy overview of the program, and why it matters to our users.
“Open wins”; or, “The Moth Bomb Use Case”
Solo has two hardware openings: an open accessory bay and an open gimbal bay. Developers — anyone, really — are free to tap into either of these. What’s more, you also have direct access to Solo’s onboard Linux computer, a 1 GHz Cortex ARM-9 processor that has computing overhead we’ve barely touched. So now you could use the accessory bay to power a Solo lighting accessory, for instance. Or develop a new gimbal to support another type of camera or sensor. Or hook up an augmented reality device.
Those are some examples that as drone makers and users we’re already pretty familiar with. We anticipate a lot of them. And they’ll bring a lot of cool features to your Solo, as you’ll see later. But right now we’re talking about open, and what’s exciting and powerful about “open” are the things Solo will support that we wouldn’t ever be able to predict.
For instance, I learned last week that drones are being used to bomb farms with moths. These are sterile moths. The hope is that these sterile moths mate with the moths that are already there destroying the crops, resulting in sterile offspring and a dead end for those moth populations.
The point: No drone company, no matter how innovative, could have planned ahead for the moth bomb use case.
This is the beginning of what we know as the “drones &” movement. This is huge. In the past, drone development was limited to dedicated engineering departments within drone companies themselves. But Made for Solo means that now companies across an array of industries can begin applying new and purpose-built hardware and software to drones for a variety of specific uses. Made for Solo provides partners both inside and outside of the drone and camera industries with the easiest way to get started on drone development.
The best part is that with more and more people developing on Solo, it will become useful to more and more people, who will adopt it and come up with more and more ideas. We don’t know where all this will take Solo, but we’re pumped to go there. It’s going to change the industry, and it’s going to change your drone.
What’s in it for my Solo?
Basically, lots of cool new stuff.
Several new Made for Solo accessories are already coming down the program’s pipes and will soon be showcased on the 3DR website. Additionally, 3DR is announcing the first three major Made for Solo industry partnerships — Epson, Kodak and Fiilex — who already have Solo accessory products under development and scheduled for release.
First there’s JK Imaging, which is making Kodak’s PIXPRO SP360 action cameras. These cameras will capture full 360° spherical video with a unique lens. It’s the beginning of VR for drones, and it’s coming soon to Solo.
And then there’s Epson, who’s developing a suite of augmented reality flight tools, such as its Moverio AR Glasses, to expand your Solo experience.
Lastly, Fiilex, which will offer a line of innovative lighting accessories fully compatible with your Solo.
This is good news for you because MFS will offer you a wide array of accessory options for you to pick and choose. You can customize your Solo however you’d like without locking into one single product with a fixed set of abilities.
All MFS products are approved by 3DR as fully compatible with Solo. These are official Solo accessories, and they’re co-branded with the 3DR logo. This means we’ve put all approved and showcased MFS accessories through an in-house testing and evaluation process to ensure their effectiveness, value and full compatibility with the Solo system.
Developers who join the MFS program will also have access to our technical and research resources. Production really is a partnership, from initial CADs to retail shelves.
We also offer comprehensive developer support on multiple levels. At the highest level, dev.3dr.com offers all of the resources for anyone to develop on Solo. Inside dev.3dr.com is 3DR’s open software development platform called DroneKit, which is a streamlined and simple interface that allows anyone to create customized drone apps. When combined with the Made for Solo program, these resources make it easy for developers anywhere to tap into new Made for Solo products and contribute even more functionality.
And because we’ve got our roots in the largest open robotics community in the world — diydrones.com — this development community can also contribute to exponential advancements through the synthesis of open hardware and open software that the Made for Solo program will catalyze.