Spherical flying machine developed by Defense Ministry's Research Department
This is the world's first spherical flying machine developed by the Research Department at Japan's Ministry of Defense.
This machine can hover like a helicopter, and take-off and land vertically. But because it works like a propeller plane standing vertically, it can fly forward at high speed using wings, which a helicopter can't do. This machine also has three gyro sensors, so even if it hits an obstacle, it can maintain its attitude and keep flying through automatic control.
"Because the exterior is round, this machine can land in all kinds of attitudes, and move along the ground. It can also keep in contact with a wall while flying. Because it's round, it can just roll along the ground, but to move it in the desired direction, we've brought the control surfaces, which are at the rear in an ordinary airplane, to the front."
"In horizontal flight, the propeller provides the propulsive force, while the wings provide lift. For the machine to take off or land in that state, it faces upward. When it does so, the propeller provides buoyancy. At that time, too, the control surfaces provide attitude control. After landing, the machine moves along the ground using the control surfaces and propeller."
"In our aircraft R&D, we have a plane that can stand up vertically after flying horizontally. But the problem with that plane is, take-off and landing are very difficult. As one idea to solve that problem, we thought of making the exterior round, or changing the method of attitude control. That's how we came up with this machine, to test the idea."
"All we've done is build this from commercially available parts, and test whether it can fly in its round form. So its performance as such has absolutely no significance. But we think it can hover for eight minutes continuously, and its speed can go from zero, when it's hovering, to 60 km/h."
This flying machine weighs 350 g, is 42 cm in diameter, and is made of commercially available parts costing a total of around US$1,400. As it can take off and land anywhere, it's hoped that this machine will be able to reach places that were hard to access by air before, for use in rescue and reconnaissance.