Drones

Tilt-rotor hexacopter puts a new twist on drone orientation

Tilt-rotor hexacopter puts a n...
The Voliro hexacopter's tilting rotors let it hover and fly in any orientation
The Voliro hexacopter's tilting rotors let it hover and fly in any orientation
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The Voliro hexacopter's tilting rotors let it hover and fly in any orientation
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The Voliro hexacopter's tilting rotors let it hover and fly in any orientation
The ETH Zurich team and their Voliro hexacopter prototype
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The ETH Zurich team and their Voliro hexacopter prototype

Multicopter drones are breaking through the final restriction on their movement in the air: they no longer need to hover parallel with the ground. The Voliro prototype's six props can tilt 360 degrees, allowing a staggering 12 degrees of freedom in the air. It's mesmerizing to watch.

Last week we covered a cube shaped drone, whose ability to calculate the trajectory of a thrown ball and catch it mid-air overshadowed its other remarkable capability of flying and hovering in any orientation.

The Voliro has no such party trick as yet, but it's still a real mind bender. Designed and built in nine months, the prototype is a regular-shaped hexacopter, but each of its six props can tilt a full 360 degrees, allowing a staggering 12 degrees of freedom in the air. That means it can manage a stable hover flying sideways, upside down, diagonally or any other way you care to mention.

Its acrobatic capabilities are more or less unlimited, but the Voliro team (a group of 11 "highly motivated" students from ETH Zurich) is more interested in its ability to hug walls. This could be a huge advantage in infrastructure inspection jobs and the like.

It's hard to imagine how you'd fly something like this manually, although it's fair to say you're never truly flying any quadcopter manually. Flight control software is constantly adjusting the power input to your props, no matter what mode you're flying in.

Even so, would you need an extra thumb to fly something like this? It's hard enough getting your head around orientation flying a regular quad, without having to think about which way's up as well.

Watch it in action in the video below.

Source: Voliro

VOLIRO - The Omnidirectional Hexacopter

9 comments
tony-k
Sorry but what purpose does this or any other drone serve ?
Gaëtan Mahon
Flying this bugger by "hand" could easily be done with a remote using a mechanic similar to what 3DConnexion has built into their 6DOF CAD Mice. Was kinda skeptical of it's use and added mechanical complexion until I read the ETH / Wall Hugging part. With the right set of feet able to grab onto stuff it could attach itself to things like a wall, tree, maybe even a ceiling thus being able to shut down the power hungry motors while performing long term surveillance.
Dan Lewis
Yeah, it's nice, but personal drones are not going much further, until the industry wakes up and puts prop cages on all prop drones. As they currently are, they cripple, blind and kill house pets. Many a child has been rushed to ER with severed fingers from these prop blades. Open props is a bad idea and at times dangerous.
Rofii
Tony-k can you really not think of even one use? Here's 12 but you can find more on Google. http://www.airdronecraze.com/drones-action-top-12-non-military-uses/
Rann Xeroxx
tony-k - Not sure what you mean by "any other drone" as these devices have incredible value in surveillance like fire monitoring for forest or protecting national borders with less fencing. This particular concept would be fantastic as a tilt rotor concept to make the device faster from place of launch to its patrol area.
SaysMe
If you had an arm/ear/cam and needed to put the bottom even with a building or listen in through a window or uncluddered view, this is the drone for you....
chase
@ Dan Lewis, The bearing of false witness style of propaganda has been tried over and over concerning UAV's. It doesn't wash. Why you're attempting it here at this late juncture in the game, I don't know but what you're stating is a load of crap. Those that have UAV's know this first hand. Those that don't, don't listen to it anymore since you guys cried wolf too many times and they now know it isn't true. As for is UAV. I watched the accompanying video, and some of those moves and the smoothness... That's pretty impressive. A nice leap forward for UAV's in my humble opinion. And i can see some future things coming about from it. Some big ones in fact if they can figure things out. Landing gear, gimbal and the main body i can see making some serious changes using this style directional control. Some pretty wild stuff i can picture right off the bat. Thanks for the write up... Please do a follow up. And keep an eye out for others using the tech or adding to it. Cheers...
MQ
please people be safe with toys.. A spinning propeller/rotor is a dangerous thing.... If a kid gets their fingers "severed" a one person claims, charges of negligence need to be applied to the (ir)responsible adult who thought proximity flying meant flying their race quad as close to other people as possible.. No living organism likes to be caged drones are no different. lol.
amazed W1
The control alogorithms must be really clever. They have to ensure that whatever else the operator tries to make the drone do, that there are enough rotors working against gravity to support the drone's weight plus the pull from any gravity assisting rotors. Bugs? Cyber security? etc