An inflatable, unsinkable drone

Diodon Drone Technology is a French start-up that develops remotely piloted air systems (RPAS). The two young engineers who set it up have developed an inflatable multicopter, notably useful for search and rescue missions. The device has also drawn the interest of special forces because not only can it be contained in a small backpack, but it takes one person less than one minute to unfold and inflate (or fold and deflate), it can be fitted with a wide variety of sensors, and, given its rubber arms, it is practically indestructible. Oh, yes, and it floats, is totally waterproof and can land and take-off from any terrain: water, snow, sand, rubble, you name it.

The inflatable arms fold back making the device extremely compact to transport (photo credit: Christina Mackenzie)

Two versions are currently available: SP20 and MP40. Both are being shown at this week’s Milipol Show in Paris. The SP20, which has an endurance of up to 20 minutes, has an HD EO/IR (high definition electro-optical/infra-red)camera as the available payload but this can be replaced by a custom payload. It folds down to a 20×20×10cm packet and when unfolded measures 60×60×10cm.

The MP40, which has an endurance of up to 30 minutes, also has a payload of an HD EO/IR camera but this time on a 2-axis stablised gimbal and, similarly to the SP20, this can be replaced by the customer’s chosen payload; the MP40 folds down to a 30×30×15cm packet and when unfolded measures 80×80×15cm.

The two multicopters can fly in winds of up to 20 knots and both are controlled by the same compact ground station.

A small electric pump fills the four arms with air but a hand pump will do the job as well!