There's a section of the South Hall at CES 2016 that is filled with an insectoid buzzing and dozens of nets. It's the drone zone, and nearly every single one you see there has four or more rotors. But there's at least one that has, well, just one rotor: the Fleye. It's one of the many Kickstarter success stories here at CES, having surpassed its funding goal with time to spare. More importantly (especially when it comes to Kickstarters), it seems like production is well on its way toward hitting its September shipping goal.
The basic premise of the Fleye is simple: take all the spinny, choppy bits of a drone and encase them inside plastic grills and styrofoam, so that it's safer to fly indoors. In fact, it's primarily meant for indoor use: it doesn't go super fast, has a non-functioning GPS chip, and is controlled with an iPhone or Android phone. There are other drones with covered rotors, but seeing it as a cute little sphere somehow make it more approachable. The main body of the drone is made of the same material you'll find inside bike helmets, and inside that is a single rotor. The air it pushes down is directed by four sets of two fins, independently controlled so that the Fleye can hover and move about the room. It's only good for about 10 minutes of flying time, but it's flying time that is less likely to end in catastrophe because all the moving parts are encased inside.
In our demo, I was able to gently push on the side of the Fleye, and it compensated nicely. You can even just grab the thing in mid-air and turn it sideways, which automatically cuts the power to the rotor. There were a few prototypes around and an engineer constantly tweaking and checking them for bugs and minor hardware issues, but Fleye is confident that it'll be ready for mass production for the fall.
It has a camera that probably won't impress most drone enthusiasts: a 5MP 1080p sensor that can shoot 30fps. The soccer ball-sized drone isn't cheap, either. It will retail for $999, but there are still a few spots and a few days left on the Kickstarter to save a couple hundred bucks on that cost.