Japan's Flying Sphere UAV (With Video)
The Japanese Defense Ministry unveiled at a trade show the latest version of a small unmanned spherical aircraft that can take off with vertical thrust, fly horizontally, and roll controlled across the ground. It has also demonstrated (on video) that it can maintain its position in space autonomously, while being batted at with a hand. The vehicle was constructed from about $1,400 in parts including carbon panels and foam, lithium batteries, a video camera and transmitter, plus electric motor. It is gyro-stabilized, can fly up to 37 miles per hour and easily negotiates obstacles like windows and enclosed stairwells. The latest model is the evolution of a series of prototypes (the seventh flew for the first time this summer). As with many current electric flying innovations, the vehicle is so far limited by a flight duration -- in this case, less than ten minutes. The Japan Defense Ministry hopes further development with produce an able search and rescue, intelligence and reconnaissance tool.