Karma Drone & Grip

Karma makes it easy for anyone to capture smooth GoPro video from both the air and ground. The Karma system includes a drone, a hand-held grip, a shared image stabilization gimbal, and a remote control. Alloy worked on both the Karma Drone and hand-held Karma Grip. Alloy joined the Karma Drone project during the early concept phase to develop a bi-stable hinge for the collapsible and removable arms which are key to the portability and serviceability of the drone. As development progressed, GoPro expanded Alloy’s role to include the mechanical design and analysis of many additional subsystems including the landing gear, outer housings, arms, and vibration isolating gimbal mount. From concept through pre-production validation builds, Alloy worked alongside GoPro’s internal teams to help marry a lightweight, portable design with clean aesthetics and robust performance. For the Karma Grip, Alloy assisted in the later stages of development, refining parts assembly details for tooling and production.
Client
GoPro
Year Announced
2016
Services Include
Mechanical Concept Development, Detailed Design for Manufacturing, Industrial Design Integration, Analysis, Prototyping, Testing, Vendor Liaison
Credits
EE, ID by GoPro
Images by GoPro

Phases

Case Study Details




Replaceable Arms

The first work Alloy did on the Drone was in the arm hinge assembly. Focus was initially placed on the hinge architecture where we explored a variety of locking, detent, and friction mechanisms all while balancing ease-of-use with flight dynamics. Detailed design work included creep and wear analyses.
With the hinge design set, Alloy worked with the GoPro team to define, develop and refine an overall arm design which married aerodynamic, EE, ID and manufacturing requirements. Alloy worked closely with GoPro’s aero and ID team to define a low-drag, stiff and aesthetically pleasing arm profile. Alloy explored an array of manufacturing processes and assembly configurations to generate an easily mass produced, high yield design. We utilized comparative structural and resonance FEA to shorten design optimization loops for weight, stiffness and durability. When engineering test samples took flight, GoPro’s team gathered real-world flight results to validate and improve our FEA. With tight communication and a thorough design-analyze-test feedback loop we matured a complex electro-mechanical-aero design in progressively shorter design cycles.


Landing Gear

Alloy was responsible for the design and development of the landing gear assembly. We initially focused on the folding mechanism, and explored various methods for deploying and locking the legs in order to achieve both the usability and robustness goals. The leg design required an embedded sensor which had strict positioning requirements with wire routing that passed through the hinge. The assembly also needed to be user replaceable in case of damage.
As the first point of contact with the ground, the landing gear needed to withstand both vertical and horizontal impacts. Alloy optimized the design and material selections for the landing gear assembly via FEA in order to meet these requirements. We also carried out physical testing in order to validate drop and cycle life performance.


Gimbal Assembly Integration

Alloy worked in collaboration with GoPro's gimbal development team on the mechanism for securely attaching the removal camera gimbal to the drone including electrical connections and vibration isolation. The cantilevered position of the camera at the front of the drone provided a challenge for the damped isolation mounting. Through a thorough process of concept development, analysis, modeling, prototyping and testing, the design was able to meet the high standards set for the video image quality, which has been highly regarded.


Project Management

Launching a complex product like a mass-production consumer drone is no small feat. It requires focused engineering work across an array of disciplines. Schedules must be aligned. Costs must be optimized. Risks must be mitigated. On the mechanical design, Alloy worked with GoPro to tightly integrate our team members and, in concert, drive the mechanical development. We married our processes and standards for mechanical development with GoPro’s own tried and true development approach. This integrated system delivered high-quality concepts, designs and prototypes within tight timelines keeping the overall project on track.