Quadcopter Safety System Halts Props Before Causing Injury

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New system is designed to stop whirring rotor blades of drones before to eliminate risk of finger cuts leading to serious injuries

The new system is developed by a team from Australia’s University of Queensland, led by Dr. Paul Pounds. The design incorporates four lightweight plastic hoops, each one of which is mounted on one of the drone’s sets of rotors, extending out to surround the rotor blades. The spinning of the rotors causes the hoops to spin with them, as the hoops are mounted via a low-friction bearing on the rotor shaft, they don’t spin as dangerously as the rotors, and can be stopped independently.

In an incidence, if finger accidently touches the rotors, it will get hit by the hoop before making contact with the rotor blade. This will causes the hoop to stop rotating, which is instantly detected by an infrared optical sensor mounted below the hoop, on the drone’s rotor arm. That sensor subsequently prompts the microcontroller driving the rotor’s motor to apply an electrodynamics braking system. This will stop the blades from spinning, in less than 0.06 of a second from the time finger touches the hoop.

The complete Safety Rotor setup weighs about 20 grams and can be retrofitted to an existing drone for around US$ 11 minimally obstructing air flow or reducing flight time. Team believes that if system is mass-produced and built into drones, it could possibly cost manufacturers less than US$ 5 per unit. Team recently showcased Safety Rotor at the 2018, International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Furthermore, it is looking for partners interested in commercializing the system.

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