While they may resemble a fleet of space invaders, these flying robots are actually designed to aid in disaster relief. Developed by the EPFL School of Engineering, the Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network (SMAVNET) is a group of flying robots that can be deployed during a disaster to create a communication network for rescuers. By flying, the robots are able to overcome any diffcult terrain or other issues they might encounter on the ground, and they provide line-of-sight communication so ground rescuers can contact each other and bases of deployment.
The developers are aiming to make the robots as light-weight, low-cost, and easy-to-control as possible. What is interesting about the robots is that they use wireless technology to communicate, navigate, and co-ordinate with each other. This means means that the robots are able to create their own communication network without relying upon GPS systems, cameras, or more expensive hardware such as radar.
The robots are made out of expanded polypropylene (EPP) and feature an electric motor mounted at the back. They weigh 420 g, have a wingspan of 80 cm, and will be able to fly for 30 minutes using a LiPo battery. The only concern, for this writer at least, is that the battery power should be expanded — 30 mins isn’t that long, especially during a disaster relief situation.