Dutch boffins create the world’s smallest drone

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delflyExplorer2

The DelFly Explorer, the world’s smallest drone, has flapping wings and can fly around by itself, avoiding obstacles, according to developer Guido de Croon of the Delft University of Technology. Weighing 20 grammes, the robot dragonfly uses two tiny low-resolution video cameras, reproducing the 3-D vision of human eyes, and an on-board computer to see its surroundings and avoid crashing into things. It can fly around for up to 9 minutes without needing external control.

Smaller ‘flapping’ drones exist, such as the RoboBee developed by Harvard University students in the US, but they are not autonomous. “The Explorer has its own small lithium polymer battery that allows it to fly for around 9 minutes, while it ‘sees’ with its onboard processor and a specially developed algorithm to make instant decisions.

The drone’s predecessor, the DelFly Micro, was declared the ‘smallest camera equipped aircraft in the world’ in 2008 by the Guinness Book of Records.

(Links: phys.org, www.delfly.nl, Photo of the DelFly Explorer by www.delfly.nl)

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