Thursday, December 8, 2022

Docomo’s blade-free, blimp-type drone uses ultrasonic propulsion

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There are many drone designs that include multiple spinning blades that give them exceptional maneuverability and the ability to hover. With more and more drones taking to the skies, these noisy, energy-intensive, and whirring blades are an increasing hazard to people, animals, objects, and other drones. To overcome this problem, engineers often use complex obstacle detection software and algorithms or encase drones in a crash cage.

Now, Japanese company NTT Docomo has announced the development of a blade-free, blimp-type drone that flies safely and silently without using propeller blades. The drone is expected to be used at events, etc., for practical purposes, including aerial videography as well as a surrealistic standalone attraction.

The blade-free drone is equipped with a high-resolution video camera that captures high-quality video and full-color LED lights that glow in radiant colors. Unlike conventional drones that require propellers and sometimes wings, Docomo’s drone uses helium to remain airborne and is propelled forward, backward, up, and down via small modules that produce ultrasonic vibrations to move air. The ultrasonic vibration module makes little noise with its minute vibrations, which make it safe to touch. So even if the drone collides with a person or object, serious injury or damage will be highly unlikely. As such, the drone is ideal for airborne use at events, commercial facilities, indoors or outdoors, and other places where people gather.

A prototype of the drone was first unveiled in 2019. The newest model is equipped with a more robust propulsion system and achieves more stable flight and can also be controlled via a communication network for easy systemized operation, including automated flight. Docomo aims to further enhance its unique drone for expanded applications in society.

The company plans to commercialize the drone within the current fiscal year ending next March. There is no word on the pricing of the device.

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