Researchers are Building a Tiny Drone With No Moving Parts

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by AlphaAtlas, Feb 6, 2019.

  1. AlphaAtlas

    AlphaAtlas [H]ard|Gawd Staff Member

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    IEEE Spectrum reports that researchers from UC Berkeley are working on a drone that's physically smaller than a penny, and weights just 67 milligrams (which, according to WolframAlpha, is about the weight of a "typical large sand grain.") The tiny drone has its own IMU, and uses a set of 4 ion thrusters instead of rotors, which means it doesn't have any moving parts. As of now, the drone can only fly with a tether, but the researchers claim they see a path towards making the drone fully autonomous while still being able to carry a useful payload.

    Check out the video of the micro drone here.


    Although initial demonstrations of controlled flight will certainly be tethered and in an indoor laboratory setting, we envision the future ionocraft as a fully autonomous robot capable of outdoor flight. The path towards autonomy requires making strides in a number of interdependent categories, including: system development to allow for incorporation of more onboard computation, control, and sensing electronics; further engineering refinement of the EHD actuator to provide increased thrust density and efficiency at a lower operating voltage; and further development of both the simulation environment and the bench-scale flight testing setup to begin development of more robust controllers with high level functionality.
     
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  2. Joust

    Joust 2[H]4U

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    Useful payload...if it's delivering fentanyl maybe.
     
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  3. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

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    Or a video camera ... I can see homeland security using tens of thousands of these.. or the CIA...
     
  4. cjcox

    cjcox [H]ard|Gawd

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    Like many university projects, it will never fly. Well... not as is. And when it does fly, it will be totally different. This is the stuff of a High School science fair. Maybe it'll produce a ribbon for "creativity". But you know there's a big difference between creativity and making something useful. With that said, science is all about experimentation. I just wouldn't get too caught up in forcing something to be "real", when you pretty much know what you have, can never fly. It can be good science though.
     
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  5. lcpiper

    lcpiper [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Or just a tracking marker. Sort of like following a radio active isotope, uses less power.
     
  6. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

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    Ion Engines my friend... That's all Star Wars propulsion, from X-Wings & TIE (twin ion engine) fighters to capital ships. It's cool tech, though last I heard ion propulsion couldn't generate sufficient thrust to do much. However pushing 67 grams is likely easier than propelling something the size of a space shuttle.

    Probably will never happen. But I thought it was cool they're using alternate propulsion methods.
     
  7. PaulP

    PaulP Gawd

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    The most likely payload would be environmental sensors. Imagine using hundreds or thousands of these to find the source of a chemical leak in a large facility, or to locate survivors of a disaster by tracing sources of CO2.
     
  8. Exercate

    Exercate Limp Gawd

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    So, I noticed the term "the drone can only fly with a tether"... I wish my neighbors would get a leash for theirs.
     
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  9. dangerouseddy

    dangerouseddy Gawd

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    by tether do they mean power cord?
     
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  10. purple_monster

    purple_monster Limp Gawd

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    tiny drone with no moving parts that doesnt move on its own either. bra-VO.
     
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  11. jmilcher

    jmilcher [H]ardness Supreme

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    A major challenge with any drone is power capacity and weight. This has not tackled that.
     
  12. Ultima99

    Ultima99 [H]ardness Supreme

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    This:
    latest?cb=20180608191629.png

    Is how you end up with this:
    latest?cb=20170921030318.png
     
  13. seanreisk

    seanreisk Gawd

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    With a small amount of bacon it would become a small, tethered, autonomous drone, with no moving parts that smelled like bacon.

    This proves the idea that bacon makes everything better.
     
  14. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    It wont be able to fly against even a very light wind so its only really good for flowing with the wind.
    As already stated, its perhaps useful for environment monitoring.
     
  15. jiminator

    jiminator Capt Obvious

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    Its coming

     
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  16. cjcox

    cjcox [H]ard|Gawd

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    Definitely has "cool factor"!! Now if we can just get those neato noises in outer space.... anyone? anyone?
     
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  17. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

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    I think they mean a power cord and a string attached to the top of it, tied to the ceiling... lol
     
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  18. AtomClock

    AtomClock [H]Lite

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    "No moving parts"... AKA Paper Weight.
     
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  19. Legendary Gamer

    Legendary Gamer Gawd

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    He says in the video "Who knows where we will be in 100 years time".... yeah, I will be long dead well before this technology can be utilized to push a single plane let alone a passenger plane. I don't even think small nuclear reactors would provide sufficient power generate enough thrust to to lift the containment necessary to house the radioactive isotopes needed to power it... Now, if we ever invent fusion tech and manage to shrink it sufficiently, that might work.

    Shrink this...
    The_JET_magnetic_fusion_experiment_in_1991.jpg

    And generate enough power to produce enough thrust to put a midget in the sky on a micro plane and I would be utterly amazed.... Too bad I'll be dead already ;)
     
  20. lostin3d

    lostin3d [H]ard|Gawd

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    Regardless of where we are or how far we still have to go I still believe this is pretty cool stuff.
     
  21. Darunion

    Darunion 2[H]4U

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    Seems that people really hate any kind of innovation or experimentation now a days. I think the idea is neat and stuff like this has to be tested in small increments before you build something the size of a house to try a theory (plus funding limits). You kids never saw how computers or your cell phones started out and how large and inefficient they were :p
     
  22. Jaymzkerten

    Jaymzkerten Limp Gawd

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    Agree with Darunion, science is all about experimentation and innovation. Even if this concept itself never amounts to anything, there might be some concepts that come from this that helps someone else solve a problem with their own innovations that they couldn't get past.
     
  23. IcePickFreak

    IcePickFreak [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yeah most people don't care about the intermediate busy work that can take years or even decades. Things start off and it's a "stupid idea" but years later it's refined or a use comes along and then it's groundbreaking. Look at the story of Hedy Lamarr with radio frequency jumping. Or like you said, computers and the internet and the difference of how they were viewed by the general public even 20-30 years ago versus now. People can really be impatient and/or short sighted, particularly when it comes to the laws of physics and nature and the challenges they pose.

    z9c83.jpg
     
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