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28 Apr 17. World’s First Spherical Drone Display from Japan. NTT DOCOMO, INC., in a continuing quest to create an innovative new business, has developed a spherical drone display – an unmanned aerial vehicle that displays LED images on an omnidirectional spherical screen while in flight – which DOCOMO believes to be a world first. The device comprises a spherical external frame, an internal LED frame consisting of a series of eight curved LED strips that extend from top to bottom, a drone fitted inside the sphere and legs protruding underneath. During flight, the LED frame spins on its axis in a rapid horizontal motion, forming an afterimage effect to create the illusion of a solid sphere of motionless LEDs. The highly maneuverable drone can be operated virtually anywhere, including venues such as concert halls or arenas where it can fly around as part of a performance or deliver advertising messages, event information, etc.. The maximum diameter of the spherical frame is about 88 cm and the entire device, including the drone, weighs just 3.4 kg. The display measures 144 pixels high and 136 pixels wide (horizontal circumference).
Equipping a drone with a spherical display had proved difficult until now due to challenges such as the display interfering with the airflow of the drone’s propellers as well as the added weight of the display. However, DOCOMO’s solution uses a largely hollow display that is exceptionally lightweight and allows air to flow through it, yet it still achieves the illusion of a solid display by creating an afterimage effect with rapidly spinning LEDs. DOCOMO aims to commercialize its spherical drone display in the fiscal year ending in March 2019. Going forward, the company will explore potential entertainment and messaging solutions for event venues, including stadiums and concert halls. DOCOMO will showcase its spherical drone display at NTT ULTRA FUTURE MUSEUM 2017 during the Niconico Chokaigi conference at Makuhari Messe, which will begin on Saturday, April 29. The exhibition will include a flight demonstration inside the event hall. Under the “Docomo Drone Project,” DOCOMO is exploring ways to combine aerial mobility and communications mobility in innovative solutions for logistics, messaging, entertainment and other fields. (Source: UAS VISION)
28 Apr 17. ScanEagle Flies with Fuel Cell Power. Ballard Power Systems announced that the company’s subsidiary, Protonex, has successfully powered test flights of the ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with the Company’s PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cell propulsion system.
“These test flights have successfully demonstrated the integration and operation of our fuel cell propulsion system as well as the high pressure hydrogen fuel tank,” said Paul Osenar, President of Protonex.
“The tests also documented acoustic footprint reduction that will enable mission routes that take the ScanEagle closer to its targets. In addition, test flights confirm that our fuel cell propulsion system offers power during flight that can be used to support greater payload diversity. When combined with improved reliability and other advantages over internal combustion systems, fuel cells are proving to be a tremendous fit for UAVs.”
Advantages of the Protonex fuel cell propulsion modules over traditional internal combustion engine propulsion systems include: significant improvement in the expected MTBF (mean time between failures) of up to 5x; silent operation; 100% throttle flexibility, including mid-air start-stop capability; and use of existing JP8 fuel in ground refuelling systems.
Peter Kunz, Insitu’s Chief Technology Officer noted, “Insitu continues to progress toward our goal of offering all-electric power and propulsion system options for Insitu platforms. Now in developmental testing, the Protonex fuel cell system has exceed