(Source: IEEE Spectrum)
Anybody who’s ever flown a rotary wing drone will look at the stats of CyPhy Works’ new Pocket Flyer drone and be amazed. It fits in your pocket and weights a mere 80 grams. It’ll fly continuously for two hours or more, sending back high quality HD video the entire time. What’s the catch? There isn’t one, except for the clever thing that grants all of CyPhy’s UAVs their special powers: a microfilament tether that unspools the drone and keeps it constantly connected to communications and power.
CyPhy Works had the brilliant idea of bringing a thing back to robots that has (or had) a reputation of being somewhat of a crutch: a tether. Ideally, your robots would be efficient enough to be able to run on batteries, completely independently. And for ground robots, that’s usually not too hard to do, since they’re not fighting gravity all the time. With flying robots, though, endurance is a serious problem. Anything that can run on batteries (and hover) is probably only going to be aloft for 10 or perhaps 20 minutes at best.
As CyPhy Works founder and CEO Helen Greiner told IEEE Spectrum, “That’s about enough time to go into a building and find a person, and then ‘Oh, our robot went dead.’ ” The microfilament, in contrast, provides a constant source of power to your robot, so you can fly any drone that uses the system until your base station (which doesn’t have to move) runs out of power. If you’re plugged into the grid, these robots could stay aloft for days.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com