HUUVER drone rolls along the ground and flies through the air
While aerial drones have many uses, there are some situations where ground-based drones are a better choice – they certainly use less battery power. The HUUVER combines aspects of the two in one vehicle, as it features both propellers and tank-like treads.
Its name an acronym for (more or less) "Hybrid UAV-UGV for Efficient Relocation of Vessels," the HUUVER is being developed via a European Union project led by Poland's Cervi Robotics/Dronehub. Other partners include LUT University (Finland), Rectangle (Poland), Gina Software (Czech Republic), Bladescape (Austria), Brimatech Services (Austria), and NTT Data Spain.
In its present prototype form, the drone measures 137 cm long by 84 cm wide by 56 cm high (53.9 by 33 by 22 in), and tips the scales at 23 kg (51 lb).
When missions call for the vehicle to travel along the ground, it uses its pair of linked treads to do so for up to 10 hours per charge of its lithium battery. Once it needs to take to the air, it fires up its eight horizontal propellers, which sit aligned with the treads (and surrounded by them) when not in use. It's then able to fly for up to 20 minutes.
Operators can remotely pilot the drone in real time, viewing output from its gimbal-mounted Sony 4K optical and FLIR thermal imaging cameras. That said, it can also fly autonomously, guided by a Galileo satellite positioning system – a Velodyne Puck LITE LiDAR sensor helps it to spot and avoid obstacles, with help from an onboard Nvidia Jetson AGX Xavier microprocessor.
A Dronehub representative tells us that the research and development phase of the HUUVER project has recently drawn to a close, with the commercialization phase now commencing. There's no word on when the drone may be available, although it will likely be aimed mainly at industrial, military and search-and-rescue usage.
In the meantime, the prototype can be seen in action in the video below – including one potential-use scenario where it's summoned to deliver emergency medical supplies.
And if you're thinking that a recreational consumer version would be a good idea, well, that's what the B-Unstoppable mini-tank/quadcopter was. Unfortunately its Kickstarter campaign was unsuccessful, although various copycat products can be found online.