About the drone
What makes our drone unique compared to other drones and applications is that our drone is able to fly and partly reacts to interaction autonomously.
Our drone has a basic understanding of the world around it. It can navigate indoors using a system with special lights developed in collaboration with Philips. These lights all emit light at a different frequency. They are mounted on the ceiling. With the use of a camera on top of our drone it can distinguish between the different frequencies of the lights. Because the lights are all in a specific location, a mapping of the lights within the room can be used to determine the drone’s location.
Making a drone feel safe is a combination of different techniques. The rotors and other mechanical/ electrical parts are shielded from the environment by a physical barrier. A large foam ring was mounted around the rotors and shielding was attached on top and on the bottom of the drone to further protect the inner mechanics from the outside environment. The shielding provided a way to give the drone a friendly appearance as well, as it’s eyes are implemented on the ring. The shielding makes the drone safe to touch, and therefore it can be operated close to people. Other things that make the drone safe is the tuning of the actuators. They are tuned in such a way that the drone flies very smoothly, which gives it a calm appearance to make it feel really safe, next to being safe. Lastly, active systems have been added which make the drone able to have a basic sense of the world around it, making sure it will not bump into anything.
On a really basic level, the drone can also communicate with people. In the drone café people were given a menu. The drone could recognise to which item on the menu customers would point their fingers at. When an order was understood, the eyes of the drone would turn green so that people knew that the drone recognised what was ordered and it would fly off. Now, in the second generation of the drone, it is able to recognise you and follow where you are. It reacts to your speech and it gives you feedback trough sound and displaying of emotions and states. Next to that, the way the drone flies, makes that it appears very friendly compared to other drones.
Physical aspects like a gripper that is introduced can greatly increase the drone’s helpfulness. The drone recognises it when you hand something over to it, so it is able to take the object from you. Also when you grab something that is in the gripper, it will recognise that and let you take it by releasing the pressure on the gripper fingers. The drone can be used for leisure by having it bring you items while you sit back in your chair. This can be just for fun, but this particular aspect could be especially useful for people that are missing or have lost functions. The drone can also increase the feeling of safety, as it could pick up for example an extinguishing rod and put out a small fire when there is nobody else around.