Phenox 2: Tokyo-born, Linux-powered programmable drone now debuts on Kickstarter


This guest post was authored by Tokyo-based freelance writer / web designer Kazuyuki Abe. He loves hardware gadgets and an omelet with a filling of ketchup‐seasoned fried rice. See the original story in Japanese.

Phenox is a drone development project from Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, University of Tokyo. The team recently developed a new version called Phenox 2 and launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.

Phenox is a self-driving drone which can recognize its surroundings. The original edition successfully fundraised $23,000 on Kickstarter, selling 30 models to backers in 2014. The crowdfunding campaign this time is for mass-producing Phenox 2, now  upgraded markedly from the original in terms of design and function.


Two cameras and a range sensor are equipped with the new model, which allows the drone to self-drive based on detecting the current position from captured images through the cameras. It also has a microphone which enables users to let the drone take off by calling its name. Facial recognition is also available with the onboard cameras.


Compared to the previous model, Phenox 2 has more sophisticated designs and is downsized, weighing only 65 grams. A Wi-Fi module onboard enables to broadcast a real-time aerial video to internet. Since Phenox 2 is Linux-powered, developers can code their program on it so that the drone can also work as an aerial platform for your apps.

An assembled model of Phenox 2 is available by pledging more than $840 on this Kickstarter campaign. If you intend to embed Phenox 2 with your robotics environment, a Phenox 2 mainboard comprising of Wi-Fi module, operating system, camera board, and communication board is available by pledging more than $520. Shipping is expected to start from this October.

From the left: Kensho Miyoshi, Ryo Konomura (Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, University of Tokyo)

Translated by Masaru Ikeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy