There's no shortage of crazy, inspiring and even downright scary drones out there right now, but we don't think we've ever seen one quite like this. Sony and Japanese robots company ZMP announced last month that they were joining forces to establish a new drones venture called Aerosense, and this video shows their first prototype in action.
At this point not much is known about the craft in the footage other than what we can see for ourselves, but clearly Aerosense has some ambitious ideas about autonomous aerial vehicles.
The Aerosense drone features a hybrid design that's equal parts helicopter and aeroplane. While it features wings, fins, and flaps – and for the most part sports a traditional, aerodynamic aeroplane look – the middle of the craft is an empty circular space containing a pair of counter-rotating propellers.
The idea, as you can see in the video above, is to enable VTOL – vertical take-off and landing – much like Harrier Jump Jets, albeit using propellers instead of jet thrust.
In the video you can see the prototype perform all its tricks in under 2 minutes. It takes off slowly using the propellers, at which point it looks a little bit unsteady, like a wobbly remote-control toy. But once it's reached a certain height… BAM! It's off, rocketing off for a circuit through the sky before eventually slowing and performing a smooth vertical landing.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Aerosense drone can fly at speeds up to 170 km/hr and is designed to carry objects of up to 10 kg in weight. Aerosense says a craft like this could perform fast and efficient aerial measuring, surveying, observing, and inspecting for business customers – all while not requiring a runway due to its VTOL capabilities.
Sadly, we probably won't get a chance to play with it ourselves. Sony and ZMP's joint venture is focused on delivering unmanned vehicles specifically for business and enterprise use, with no announced plans of entering the consumer market.