It was six years ago that we first heard about PowerUp, a kit that added a motorized propeller to paper airplanes. Since then, Bluetooth remote-control functionality has been added, and a version with an onboard camera was released. Now there’s the PowerUp Dart, which is designed to perform aerobatic stunts.
The current standard version of the PowerUp kit consists of a lithium-polymer battery joined to a motor/propeller by a carbon fiber shaft, all of which gets attached to a user-supplied folded paper airplane made from regular copier paper. Utilizing an iOS/Android smartphone app, users control a rudder which turns the plane to either side when in flight. The airplane climbs and descends via throttle control – this means that whenever it speeds up, it climbs, and whenever it slows down, it descends.
So, what makes the Dart different?
Well, it’s half the size of the regular version (and thus lighter), yet has a faster motor. This results in a thrust-to-weight ratio of 2:1, as opposed to the standard model’s 1:1. It also has a carbon crossbar added to its main shaft for extra lift and stability, along with new folding templates for users to follow. What it all boils down to is a plane that can perform high G-force aerobatic maneuvers, climb straight up, and recover from steep descents.
As an added bonus, there’s also an optional set of landing gear, meaning that the aircraft can take off from the ground instead of having to be launched by hand. It has a flight time of 10 minutes per 25-minute charge.
The PowerUp Dart is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where a pledge of US$29 will get you one if everything works out. The planned retail price is $45.
It can be seen in flight, in the following video.