Drone technology is progressing at a rapid rate, but at least one company is looking to the past for innovation in the future. To address the perplexing issue of how to protect people and property from drones that get out of control and fall to the ground, Swiss company Aerotain is seeking inspiration from blimps, creating a modern drone using an inflated balloon.
When flying under the control of an experienced operator, a remote-controlled drone provides a unique angle to any event, whether it be a family backyard barbecue or a major public event. Drones can be beneficial, but their location in the sky also makes them inherently dangerous, especially if their flight is disrupted and they come crashing to the ground. Companies have been developing a variety of solutions to protect people from falling drones. These ideas include auto-hovering features that stabilize a falling drone and even a mini-parachute that slows a drone during a fall. Not to be outdone, Aerotain’s inflatable drone concept is among the most unique ideas being proposed for the safe operations of a drone in a crowded public area.
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The company’s Skye drone is comprised of an inflatable balloon that is filled with helium to help the device stay aloft. This assisted lift makes it possible for the drone to fly for more than two hours, eclipsing most modern drones which have significantly shorter flight times.
The Skye is highly customizable and can be inflated to different sizes, with the largest version measuring 3 meters in diameter. This supersized, blimp-style drone is eye-catching, making it perfect for companies that want to advertise their brand on the sides of the UAV. The Skye also can carry up to 4 pounds of broadcast-quality camera equipment that can be used to stream photos and videos to a remote operator.
Because it is a balloon, the Skye drone is a soft platform that will cause only minor injury if an error in its flight causes it to collide with people who are on they ground. It also is safe to touch since its propulsion system is enclosed within the unit. This design provides a significant advantage over existing quadcopters that are made of a hard plastic and have external blades capable of inflicting damage on people and animals when they accidentally collide.
Aerotain is marketing its drone to event organizers looking for a safe alternative to conventional drones for aerial photography. The company believes its technology is perfect for large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events where the Skye drone’s safety features are paramount and its presence will attract attention for a brand. A smaller version of the Skye drone also can be used in compact public spaces, such as the interior of a building, where the potential for a collision with people and objects is high. Aerotain is heavily promoting its solution, recently demoing its Skye drone at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.