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Kickstarter grounds Eye3 flying camera

Drone enthusiasts cry foul, saying the Eye3 is too good to be true and too similar to existing products.

Pie in the sky? The canceled Eye3 robot camera.

Fancy having your own self-guided flying camera mount? One that could get your Canon dSLR soaring over your house and neighborhood for only $2,500?

Kickstarter fans would, so much so that they ponied up triple the $25,000 funding goal for the Eye3 hexacopter, powered by the open-source APM2 autopilot platform.

After all, flying drones, military and civilian, can record stunning footage for a lot less than the price of a helicopter camera crew.

But Kickstarter has poked its finger in the Eye3, pulling the plug on funding.

Kellie Sigler, the woman behind what was billed as "a professional quality yet affordable flying robotic camera platform," wrote: "Kickstarter ended this project. We don't really know why. They haven't contacted us with any reason....or any info at all aside from that it has been canceled."

It may have a lot to do with allegations that the Eye3 was basically fake because it's too similar to existing products.

The vehicle was described as "a low-cost kit that practically anyone can assemble," requiring only "basic soldering skills for motor connections."

Commentators on the DIY Drones forum have said it consists of marked-up third-party components advertised with unsupported performance claims. One, Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson, pointed out, "It appears to be a stock Xaircraft frame that costs $160."

Indeed, this image of the Eye3 is identical to this photo of the Xaircraft, but with the label removed.

Addressing the charge that the Eye3 is just repackaged parts, Sigler wrote: "Our intention is to provide a kit so that someone can just buy it in one place and put it together and have it work. Help and support will be more useful when it is based on known and inspected parts rather than what someone 'bought on the web.'"

Fortunately, none of the backers have lost money on the Eye3. Believers, however, can still follow the project on a new site here.

(Via IEEE Spectrum)