The FT Aviator is an all-new style of remote control that is designed to be compatible with DJI drones. It is the result of a Kickstarter campaign led by former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski and designed by Fluidity, Inc. Scott felt the two-thumb method of controlling drones was difficult to master, so he developed this new way to fly. Parazynsky and the team at Fluidity believe that the FT Aviator gives pilots more control and allows them to master flying faster. We have yet to test one, so the verdict is still out. If the first drone joystick performs as advertised then we suspect it will be a hit.
What is the FT Aviator?
The FT Aviator works with most DJI drones and connects to your existing DJI controller. The method of control is different than the traditional controller but has all the same basic functionality. Forward and sideways motion performs as you would expect: you move the joystick in the direction you want to travel. Altitude control is achieved with the thumb and yaw (rotating the drone left and right) is controlled by twisting the remote. That is pretty intuitive. One of the most interesting features is that the FT Aviator gives the user haptic feedback to help eliminate unintended drift. Fluidity believes their joystick remote will make flying easier and reduce piloting errors.
Here is what FT Aviator has to say about their drone:
When an astronaut designs a drone controller
Using an astronaut’s perspective on intuitive motion through space, we have patented a unique and intuitive drone controller that anyone, whether they’re eight or eighty, can pick up and begin using immediately. The FT Aviator is designed to incorporate the relevant 4 degrees of freedom of movement (x, y, z, and yaw) to drone flying, eliminating the awkward interface and steeper learning curve of existing dual thumb-controlled drones. It intuitively unlocks human potential to fly and capture stunning imagery.
- Intuitive, single-handed design eliminates the complexity of dual thumb controllers
- Smooth, controlled flight, virtually eliminating aircraft instability
- Advanced camera controls for high-quality photo and video capture
- Situational display indicators so you always know your drone’s location and orientation
- Easy to use, right out of the box
- 5-hour battery life
- Compatible with most DJI drones, including the Mavic, Phantom, Inspire and Matrice series*
Can the FT Aviator carve out a niche?
I really like the idea of simplifying the remote controller. I’ve put in countless hours learning to fly and I have to agree the dual thumb controller may not be the best design, particularly for new pilots. However, it is THE UNIVERSAL DESIGN. Whether you are flying DJI drones or FPV racers, the dual thumb controller is what all drones use. It is going to be very difficult for FT Aviator to break the mold even if this controller is easier for pilots to use.
Who will buy the FT Aviator?
The FT Aviator could be popular with the hoards of commercial enterprises, police departments, and fire departments that are looking for aerial solutions. These groups frequently have big budgets and are looking to train their pilots as quickly as possible.
Will the FT Aviator take off?
The success of the FT Aviator likely hinges on execution. In order to gain widespread acceptance, the controls need to be easier for beginner to use than the standard dual-gimbal design of traditional remotes. Another factor is the sensitivity of the controls. If experienced pilots can more easily achieve smooth complex motions with the FT Aviator, then it could also be a hit with aerial videographers.
The FT Aviator was designed by a team of expert engineers from multiple design firms including Motivo Engineering, Spark Aerial and Innovate, LLC. We are hopeful that this talent was able to pull through with a great product.
Can the FT Aviator grow beyond DJI?
I wonder if FT Aviator has any plans of making the FT Aviator for more than just DJI drones. I fly drones of all kinds and often times the worst part about a drone is its controller. I’ve come to appreciate the Jumper T8SG as a universal remote. The Jumper works with hundreds of drones and is a big upgrade over many stock controllers. If the FT Aviator had multiprotocol functionality like the Jumper that would open up a larger market share.
Flying racing drones is more difficult than flying a GPS-stabilized drone from DJI. I would love to try the FT Aviator on a racing quad in acro mode.
Learn more about the FT Aviator from their Kickstarter page. Currently, it is about 30% funded. You can back the project at $225 now and get the FT Aviator early, or you can wait and pay the expected retail price of $449.
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