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Flying robots take on extreme tasks

25 Nov 2014  | Ann R. Thryft

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Black Hornet PD-100

(Source: Prox Dynamics)

This little guy is really, really small: it weighs only 16g, or just over half an ounce, and measures 200mm x 88mm x 50mm. This tiny unmanned air system (UAS) is the Black Hornet PD-100 Personal Reconnaissance System. It looks exactly like a miniature helicopter, and flies like one, too. The Black Hornet comes in pairs, and the system also includes a base station, a hand controller and a display. The UAS' manufacturer, Prox Dynamics, says it's combat-proven, has a 25-minute flight time, and can handle wind speeds of 10knots sustained and gusts of up to 15knots. On the ground, its maximum speed is 6knots. The tiny robot has onboard live video, inertial navigation and GPS, and directed and autonomous autopilot. Its communications are a digital data link beyond a 1,500m line-of-sight.

EASE

(Source: CyPhy Works)

The Extreme Access System for Entry (EASE) is a small radio-controlled inspection robot that hovers and can easily enter constricted areas. It can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance beyond line-of-sight operations and where GPS isn't possible, such as in search-and-rescue operations or during inspection of structures like bridges and towers. The robot has vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) abilities and measures 30.5cm in diameter by 40.6cm high.

It is attached to a base station via a microfilament that provides it with both communication and power from hot-swappable batteries, which also extend flying time. The microfilament is impervious to water and power lines, and prevents both jamming and interception. It is spooled out from the robot so movement is unrestricted, and it carries high-definition video signals. The robot has night vision, a 300ft altitude limit, and a 1,000ft range, and can fly 50 minutes per battery.

Defikopter

(Source: Definetz)

The Defikopter is a defibrillator delivery drone prototype designed jointly by Definetz, a German non-profit organisation, with drone-maker Height Tech. The idea is to fly defibrillators wherever first responders need them in Germany, for treating heart attack victims during the very short window of time the instruments can be used to save people's lives. The Defikopter drones could be summoned by a GPS-enabled smartphone app within a radius of 10km and fly at speeds of up to 70kph. They would either drop a defibrillator via parachute or descend to the ground.

The design team says the drones could be deployed in sparsely populated areas in rough terrain, or in the middle of a traffic jam, which can't be reached easily by emergency vehicles. To use the system, first responders must already have the app working on their phones. The team hasn't announced an availability date.


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