Tech startup Makeblock releases Airblock, a Modular Drone that Transforms Into a Hovercraft

Shenzhen-based robotics startup Makeblock released the new Airblock, a modular six-axis drone that transforms into various flying configurations, includinghexacopter and hovercraft. Airblock combines the best of building blocks with flight physics and engineering to make each flying experience unique.

Airblock consists of magnetic, modular parts that are easy to assemble and disassemble without tools. Included in each set are a control core, a hovercraft base, six blade modules, six spare blades, ten blade shields, one wall charger, one lithium-ion rechargeable battery and one USB cable.

The central processor, motors and rotors are all enclosed in a soft foam frame that is durable and strong. Its pieces snap together using magnetic connectors. The large styrofoam base can be configured with the aforementioned pieces to construct a hovercraft that zips over water or smooth terrain.

The Airblock can be controlled via the Makeblock app (available in iOS and Android formats) that functions like the command center. It offers one-touch operation; press one key to take-off and one key to perform aerial stunts. Using a drag-and-drop coding language, the app can also program aerial routines and customized stunts. Simply drag-and-drop different blocks of commands — like forward, right, up and roll — and connect them together to create a seamless stunt. If you don’t feel like coding, you can just commandeer Airblock using the joystick controls.

With magnetic attachments, modularity and visual programming, the Airblock is limited only by the user’s imagination. It incorporates basic engineering, coding and flight physics to operate. Makeblock as a company focuses heavily on robotics and STEM concepts (science, technology, engineering and math) and the Airblock is a starter drone that fits that agenda.

Flight time from a single charge is approximately six minutes. In an open area, the Airblock can attain a vertical height of 16 feet and a horizontal distance of 50 feet. As an aircraft, the unit measures 235 mm x 54 mm. As a hovercraft, it measures 335 mm x 208mm x 126mm.

When the mobile device is powered off or Bluetooth connection is lost, the Airblock will hover and automatically land.

Airblock retails for $119. It is currently on Kickstarter with an expected ship date of February 2017. The project successfully funded in 24 hours and it has already doubled its funding goal with more than 50 days remaining. For more information, visit www.makeblock.com