This very entertaining video from TV Tokyo features a new aerial robot that is designed mostly for operating inside buildings.
The so-called (by the reporter) “flying ball” use a single (fixed pitch) propeller and downstream control vanes that guide the airflow. It’s designer is Sato Humiyuki and it was developed by the Technical research and Development Institute (TRDI) from commercial parts. TRDI overviews most of the Japanese advanced defense programs. It was presented in November during the “Defense Symposium 2010” in Tokyo.
In this demo it carries a small camera and it looks like it is remote controlled. The airframe is the crucial part here and it looks very stable and robust. Other payloads or navigation/autopilot systems could be embedded and the concept can be scaled-up or down.
The spherical shape has a crucial advantage over the cylindrical shape of a ducted fan, or a dome shaped Coanda-effect flying saucer. A sphere is very robust; the exoskeleton protects the propeller and all the crucial parts. Most importantly it can regain its posture. However clumsy a landing or an in-flight bump may be, it will always be ready to take off or remain stable.
By using the white cover it is a simple white ball and many of them can be stuck together in a container. They could even airdropped in large numbers without risk of colliding one over the other and interlock propellers. As demonstrated, the flying ball can be released from its cover by blowing out the cover by itself.
[via TRDI / Asagumo-News / @AutomatonBlog]