When Canadian engineers Omar Eleryan and Simon Czarnota first tried flying a regular drone, they were put off by how big, loud, hard to control and potentially dangerous it was. That prompted them to form Cleo Robotics, and develop the donut-shaped Cleo drone.
Recently showcased at CES, the Cleo fits in a pocket, is controlled by a smartphone app, and is equipped with an HD video camera.
What really sets it apart from other small drones, however, is the fact that it isn't a quadcopter. Instead, it has just two propellers that are stacked inside of its ducted body. Grates on the top and bottom protect users' fingers from those whirling props, meaning that it's possible to actually reach out and grab the drone as it's flying.
Flight time is 12 to 15 minutes per charge of its battery.
The exact manner in which it's steered is a trade secret at this point, although Eleryan has told IEEE Spectrum, "We introduce control surfaces into the airstream to change the direction of the airflow and create a thrust vectoring effect."
Plans call for the addition of obstacle avoidance and indoor navigation systems. Ultimately it is hoped that the Cleo will find use not only with hobbyists, but also in the security industry.
You can see a prototype in use, in the following video.
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