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Clover Open Source drone kit offers building, coding, STEAM

Some people, we’re assuming the vast majority, like to buy drones that are ready to fly. No muss, no fuss, just charge and fly. At the other extreme are FPV builders who will stop at nothing to source and assemble the lightest, strongest, and most powerful racers. Somewhere in there is a small niche interested in a very different drone experience – a drone they can program using code.

There are tons of people out there interested in drones – and plenty of people who are passionate about coding. If we were to draw a Venn diagram, there would be some overlap of those two groups. And it’s for those people that a Russian company built a programmable drone called Clover. The product isn’t about to win any awards for speed or cinematography, but there are plenty of other things it can do.

Let’s have a look.

Clover kit is a STEAM project

This kit really does tick all the boxes: science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to pull it all together. A Clover kit will bring you into a broader, like-minded online community where you can always find a helping hand (including a series of instructional videos).

But what is it, exactly?

At its most basic, it’s a quadcopter kit that uses a Raspberry PI 4 for its brains. The ground controller is open source software. It has computer vision and can read ArUlco markers. You’ll see more in this video from manufacturer Coex, and get a sense that this is truly a device for learning:

COEX video explaining Clover

Recent Clover STEAM kit crowdfunding campaign

COEX recently wrapped up a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, where it raised $32,555.

Here’s how the kit is described on the COEX website:

Learn the inner workings of a drone, from physics to programming and telemetry, with this fun quadcopter kit. The set includes a PX4 flight controller and a Raspberry Pi 4 controlling onboard computer, which can be used to connect to the drone over Wi-Fi. It’s also Python based, meaning you’ll learn real coding. And if you fail to make the code right, don ́t worry, just download the ready made codes.
Some of the features listed on the COEX website…

Yes, you can fly it with a radio 

But really, that’s not what this drone is built to do. But if programming a drone from scratch appeals to you – or if you’re a teacher – this might just be a fit.

All the bits and pieces…

A number of different packages are available via Kickstarter or Indiegogo; Clover is much more cost-effective when purchasing for a classroom.