Unusual Flying Objects have been a constant in laboratories around the world, ever since the Wright brothers flew that first model we have been trying to figure out new ways to fly.
The helicopter was one such idea that actually worked as is the tilt rotary air craft – Osprey -. For these two idea’s that struggled and eventually made it to market there are thousands of idea’s that don’t make it. Too complex, to whacky.
The Circular Flying Object or Flying Sphere is a new design that has recently made it out of the labs and into the world of demonstrations. Wowing crowds around Japan Fumiyuki Sato and his Unusual Flying Object may be the next evolution of flight.
Fumiyuki Sato of the Japanese Defence Ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute intended the Sphere to be flexible enough to support multiple roles; emergency services, security, surveillance.
The sphere itself has a single engine and propeller, eight rudders or control surfaces, 16 spoilers to control air flow and three gyro sensors. With the body made from carbon fibre and foam the Sphere weighs in at 12.3 ounces. Using a standard remote control the Sphere is easy to fly, Sato would like to include some auto-pilot logic in future version that would allow GPS targets to be automatically flown to.
At 17 inches in diameter the small black spherical machine is compact enough to fly in small spaces or through dangerous structures during an emergency, flying through damaged buildings and up stair cases the Sphere could go places no other craft can. A camera is included on-board for surveillance Sato doesn’t recommend flying the sphere using the camera, instead preferring to operate the sphere within eye shot, field of vision of the controller. Constructed from $1,390 worth of common parts the sphere is more evolutionary than revolutionary.
The clever design of the Sphere gives it a number of different flight modes. With the Sphere’s propeller aligned like a helicopter – horizontally – the Sphere is able to hover for up to eight minutes, either remaining stationary or moving slowly around objects. While hovering the gyroscopic sensors allow the Sphere to stay incredibly stable, it can be bumped or blown about without loosing control. For faster movement the Sphere can roll, orienting the propeller vertically, more like an airplane, allowing it to reach speeds of 37mp/h – 60 kp/h – .
While in forward flight mode the Sphere is able to fly much more efficiently with the fins and surfaces providing lift. The Sphere isn’t just a flying machine either, rolling seems natural enough for a sphere and this unusual flying machine can also roll along the ground with the propeller and control surfaces providing the forward motion. Soccer takes on a whole new angle when the ball can escape.
While in hover mode the spinning propeller would normally make the sphere want to spin the other way, counter rotating force. Helicopters use a tail propeller to balance this force. The Sphere being a sphere can’t really include a tail, instead the gyro’s coupled with the control surfaces stop the sphere spinning uncontrollably. The batteries on-board hold enough power for eight minutes of hover, longer for forward flight ,
Star Wars technology has come to life in Japan with Sato’s flying Sphere. Having made the transition from design to demonstration Sato now has the arduous task of turning the Sphere into the next must have product, the gadget we all have to have for Christmas. Will it become a real product?
Buddha’s Brother out…