The world's first inflatable hexacopter is upon us, and it makes a lot of sense. With the arms deflated, the Diodon drone folds away into a tiny carry case, and once you blow them up, it's buoyant enough to land on water – or, more to the point, not sink when you accidentally crash it into the water.
With the guts of the machine enclosed in a central waterproof box, the motors and foldable props of the drone sit on six inflatable tubes. These fold down to almost nothing for transport, but can be attached to an air pump and inflated to rigid arms within a minute or two.
A side benefit of the design is that it makes the entire airframe buoyant enough to float on the surface of water – of course, a mid-air deflation of one or more arms would be absolutely catastrophic. The drone's waterproofing will also allow it to fly in heavy rain or sea conditions.
France's Airvada plans to sell three versions, from the SP20, which measures 700 x 700 x 100 mm (27.5 x 27.5 x 3.9 in) unfolded and can carry a GoPro-sized camera for up to 20 minutes, through the MP40 that measures 1,200 x 1,200 x 150 mm (47.2 x 47.2 x 5.9 in) and can carry a compact camera with gimbal for up to 30 minutes, up to the HP150, which measures 1,500 x 1,500 x 200 mm (59 x 59 x 7.9 in) and can carry a stabilized 1.5-kg (3.3-lb) camera for up to 35 minutes.
No pricing or release dates have been announced, but each will come with its own compact electric pump to quickly get the drone ready to fly, as shown in the (french language) video below.
Product page: Airvada Diodon
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