It’s the end of the year, a time of stock taking and reflection, what’s been happening in the year and where are things now that were exciting a year ago. Kickstarter and their ilk are always a good place to start for things like this.

We see lots of exciting projects there and a few that we’re very curious about, perhaps because of some rather stretched promises (the Zano, a drone so awesome it seemed impossible… and turned out to be, blowing the £2.3m raised) and some because of the founders themselves (CyPhy lvl1 sprung to mind immediately).

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The lvl1 was a simple idea done very well, rather than have your drone tilt whilst moving, lets position the rotors so they are already tilted and the drone will stay level. What fascinated us was the background of the team behind it. An allstar cast with military funding for some really impressive craft. CyPhy have for a long time been doing some really cool stuff, so it seemed strange that they were doing A. a consumer product and B. needed the funding (more on this later).

Whatever the reason, their project sprang to mind recently because I’ve not heard anything about it in a while and the biggest challenge with kickstarter projects is that they often take so long to come into development, DJI or someone similar has beaten them to it before they even launch.

Take the Airdog, or the Hexo+ for example. Interesting drones at the time, but looking decidedly redundant now with GoPro’s Karma and the DJI Mavic or Phantom 4.

So fearing the worst I gave them a quick google and sadly discovered that they had cancelled the project! It seems that they had perhaps over promised for the price and couldn’t get the drones together with all the features they wanted. Not wanting the bad press or a Zano style lynching. They’ve done the honourable thing and called it quits, returning everyone’s money, nearly $1m in funding.

I applaud that decision and course of action, but it also seems to highlight that they clearly didn’t need the funding. A team of professionals, burning through cash to develop an exciting new project and after a year they can return all the funds they had received.

There’s been a lot of big companies crowdfunding, and it’s no bad thing. But I do love an underdog.

Easy Drone is a favourite, quietly getting on with their niche with a small but dedicated following. Sprite was another one. Clever, different and unlikely to be copied by the big boys.

Who knows. Maybe one day we’ll join you.