Based on sales, industry buzz and media hype, 2014 has been The Year of the Drone – a time when drone use has moved from the corners of the hobbyist mindset into the center stage of consumer electronics. Perhaps one reason drones so easily capture the human imagination lies in its potential for innovation. From multi-million-dollar, university think tanks to a couple of geeks in a Grandma’s garage, drone tinkerers have combined a lot of innovation with a collection of gyroscopes, motors, and code-based wizardry to create some very cool ideas in the UAV realm. What follows are six remarkable drone concepts that came out of the woodwork in 2014.
The Ambulance Drone
In an emergency situation – say a cardiac trauma – seconds saved can mean the difference between life and death. With that in mind, Alec Momont of TU Delft in the Netherlands designed a prototype ambulance drone he says may increase survival rates in cases of cardiac arrest from 8 to 80 percent.
Upon receiving an emergency call, the quadcopter uses GPS triangulation to deliver a user-friendly defibrillator to the caller, who can then receive instruction from a medical professional via a radio on the drone.
As with most innovations, Momont points out that his concept is already ahead of government regulation. “There are still some obstacles to the further development of the ambulance drone. The drone can fly autonomously, but this is currently not permitted by law. A law adjustment in this area is expected in the Netherlands in 2015” Momont expects the drones to be ready for mass deployment within five years.
The Avalanche Rescue Drone
So let’s say you get stuck in one of those pesky avalanches. Don’t you just hate when that happens? Never fear — if a concept developed by designer Tatiana Rolle can be successfully produced, you may be saved by a drone. Rolle’s design would see sensors installed across a mountain range. When an avalanche is detected, UAVs would be deployed to survey the area and paint a mark around a victim’s location while transmitting GPS coordinates to rescue workers.
The world’s first wearable selfie-taking drone
Although still in the prototype stage, the Nixie may prove to be the “Little Drone That Could” as it battles for the crown of the world’s first wearable selfie drone. And it’s off to a good start- earlier this year, the Nixie won Intel’s “Make It Wearable” contest which included a cool $500,000 prize to continue the UAV’s development.
The Team Nixie website describes how Nixie works succinctly: “Nixie is a tiny wearable camera on a wrist band. The wrist straps unfold to create a quadcopter that flies, takes photos or video, then comes back to you.”
The Bartender Drone
When humanity explores a new frontier, a watering hole is always among the first waypoints we construct. Low altitude, UAV flights have opened such a frontier and Ukraine designer Herman Haydin is already working on getting beverages airborne.
Haydin envisions indoor airspace laden with hovering hot toddies and gyrating gin-and-tonics. Yura, Haydin’s conceptual flying robotic bartender “mixes and then fills your drinks by swooping above the heads of the crowd.” The design is a sleek quadcopter that sports twin spouts designed to dispense and mix a variety of cocktails including coffee, tea or juice (a smart cartridge inside Yura can heat or cool the beverage). Using voice or smartphone commands, Yura will deliver the right drinks to the right customers. And, yes, Yura offers Wi-Fi.
The Med Delivery Drone
QuiQui (pronounced ‘quicky’) is working on delivering medicine via drone to the Mission District of San Francisco -and they say they can do it in 8-12 minutes. “Just like ordering an Uber, you’re going to drop a pin and we send a drone right to you. When it gets to you, we send you a message and then you swipe to drop, its drops your order on you and it flies away,” QuiQui founder Josh Ziering explained in an interview with CNN Money. QuiQui already hundreds of people signed up for its service and is hopes to make its first deliveries as soon as it is legally feasible.
Hoverbikes and Volocopters, Oh My!
Enter the Volocopter and the Hoverbike. Designed by German firm e-volo, the Volocopter is an 18-propeller helicopter designed to carry two passengers. It can be flown both manually and remotely. Once certified for commercial flight, the battery-powered Volocopter is expected to provide 60 minutes of flight time and carry payloads up to 450 kg.
Not too far away, British-based Malloy Aeronautics is developing the Hoverbike. Billed as offering the “simplicity of a motorbike and the freedom of a helicopter,” the Hoverbike will fly “like a quadcopter, and can be flown unmanned or manned, while being a safe – low level aerial workhorse with low on-going maintenance,” Malloy says.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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