A group of robotics and technology developers are working on a project that will see a tiny helicopter drone being controlled by a smartphone.
A small team based in Shenzen are currently seeking funding to take the project, known as Hex, further with the aim of creating an inexpensive gadget that can be put to a variety of tasks. While several such gadgets have appeared in the past, the team behind Hex are unique in that they are using 3D printing as a part of their scheme, vastly cutting production costs.
The helicopter drone is also intended to be an open source project that will allow users to make their own adaptations and customisations to the device. The 3D printing element also allows people to choose the appearance of each drone, and the team are encouraging designers to get on board and see what they can come up with.
Whereas the public perception of drones is as war machines, should Hex come to fruition it could see remotely-powered aircraft being put to a variety of unusual purposes. However, this has happened in a few other cases, as we take a look at below.
Filming music festivals
The Burning Man festival, held in Nevada, has an unusual tradition that sees a number of attendees bringing remote-controlled helicopters and aeroplanes with them to photograph and video the event. The festivals organisers have even taken the step of drawing up a list of ‘best practice’ rules to make sure drones don’t spoil the fun for anyone else.
Following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, a company called Drone Adventures helped aid agencies working in the area by using unmanned aerial vehicles. Data gathered by the drones was matched with Google Maps and used to direct relief efforts to the most needy areas of the country.
Domino’s Pizza has recently experimented with using remote-controlled helicopters to take fast food to the firm’s customers. While more of a promotional tool than an actual scheme that could become more widespread, it gives an interesting indication of how such technology could be used in the future.