The existence of flight robotics is tenuous at best. Its primary problem comes from finding ways to fuel the robot efficiently while still maintaining functionality, which has caused problems in the past. But this newest creation by CyPhy Works takes an innovative and yet somehow also strange perspective on this issue.
The EASE robot hovercraft is actually pretty cool as a robot itself. It can fly through doors and windows, and uses a ducted-fan design. This basically means that it uses a fan/propeller mounted within a cylinder or duct-like area. This sort of design allows the EASE to takeoff and land vertically, as well as hover in air. In addition, the EASE hovercraft is portable too, with a diameter of only 12 inches and height of 16 inches, this robot can easily be carries in a backpack.
Unfortunately, the EASE otherwise suffers from short-term battery problems. If using the on-board batteries, it can only last for a little less than an hour. Although hot-swapping (the ability to replace the battery without having the shut down the system) alleviates this problem a little bit, it’s still not a very efficient solution, especially if you need to use it for a long time and can’t afford to carry around hundreds of batteries. EASE solves this by having a microfilament that connects to the ground control system, and thus keep the robot powered through a power grid. This microfilament is even thinner than a headphone cable! In addition, the microfilament is spooled, adjusting to just the right quantity to feed out so the line will never be stressed or strained.
What do you use this amazing movement capabilities for? You could use them for search and rescue, with their ability to maneuver through difficult terrain and human buildings. And with two on-board HD cameras, (one front looking and other down looking) with an optional thermal camera, you can take pictures constantly as you drag the robot around like a balloon. Even better, the microfilament connection allows 720p video at 30 fps to be monitored in real time, because there is an actual physical connection between the robot and control system.
Of course, some would argue that this UAV can be used to track down people in the apocalypse no matter how much we blockade our buildings. Let’s be optimistic can’t we?