As we all know drone technology is advancing rapidly. One of the best-known examples is perhaps from Skydio with the introduction of the Skydio R1 drone two years go and more recently the Skydio 2 drone. These unmanned aircraft fly almost completely autonomously and avoid obstacles like no other drone can do. Today, however, the engineers from the ETH Zürich show us a tilting, rotating and omnidirectional drone. You’ll have to see it to believe how this drone can move through the air.
The omnidirectional drone from ETH Zürich
The omnidirectional drone from ETH Zürich has six arms with two sets of propellers at the end of each arm. These propellers obviously rotate, but not just in the way you’d expect them to. No, these props or rotor assemblies also rotate themselves at the end of each arm, allowing the drone to move in any direction through space.
Watch the video below if you’d file to see what this looks like in real life.
Of course, this is a research prototype drone for now. But it is not hard to see how technology like this can be very useful for doing inspection work in dangerous situations. A smaller version of an omnidirectional drone could be very useful for mineshaft inspections or other interior inspections where it might be unsafe for humans to enter.
In the description of the video, they say:
“Omnidirectional micro aerial vehicles are a growing field of research, with demonstrated advantages for aerial interaction and uninhibited observation. While systems with complete pose omnidirectionality and high hover efficiency have been developed independently, a robust system that combines the two has not been demonstrated to date. This paper presents the design and optimal control of a novel omnidirectional vehicle that can exert a wrench in any orientation while maintaining efficient flight configurations. The system design is motivated by the result of a morphology design optimization. A six degrees of freedom optimal controller is derived, with an actuator allocation approach that implements task prioritization, and is robust to singularities. Flight experiments demonstrate and verify the system’s capabilities.”
Drone technology is rapidly advancing. Check this out from the smart people at ETH Zürich pic.twitter.com/e9SEoU0xM6
— DroneXL (@DroneXL1) April 16, 2020
What do you think of an omnidirectional drone like the one shown in this video? Where do you see unmanned aircraft with capabilities like these add value? Let us know in the comments below.