NTT DOCOMO, INC. has developed a blade-free, blimp-style drone that is propelled safely through the air with ultrasonic vibrations, offering promising applications in indoor spaces.
Unlike conventional drones that require propellers and sometimes wings, DOCOMO's propellerless and wingless drone blimp simply requires helium to remain airborne. Moreover, it can travel forward, backward or up/down propelled via ultrasonic vibrations generated by several small modules to move air.
Conventional drones can cause serious injury or damage if their propellers or wings strike people or objects. DOCOMO's drone blimp, however, uses a helium gas filled balloon and is propelled by ultrasonic-vibration modules that can operate as an "air pumps" in order to fly. This means that so coming to contact with the drone poses no danger.
In the near future, DOCOMO will deploy its drone blimp at concert halls and other indoor events for entertainment, information and advertising. It also will be possible to use projection mapping to display images and videos on the drone's surfaces. In addition, the drone can be fitted with tiny cameras for monitoring and security solutions.
The drone's diameter is about 90 cm, and its maximum flight speed is just 20 cm/sec. It can fly constinously for about 2 hours.
DOCOMO presented the drone's development story at The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2019), an academic conference focusing on human-computer interaction, held in the United Kingdom.
The drone was also exhibited as well as demonstrated at the NTT booth during Niconico Chokaigi 2019, which was held at the Makuhari Messe convention complex outside Tokyo from April 27.