Bluetooth bug

Epson’s latest flying microbot could be used in search-and-rescue operations within two years.

Seiko Epson has unveiled its latest mini flying robot, which it claims could be used in search- and-rescue operations within two years.

The FR-II robot – just 136mm wide – uses micromechatronics and bluetooth wireless technology, weighs 12.3g, and is capable of independent flight.

Its predecessor, the FR, weighed 10g, but was linked to a power source through a cable. The FR-II has an onboard battery, although it is still only capable of three minutes of flight. Epson has added an image sensor unit that can capture aerial images of a disaster area and transit them via a Bluetooth wireless connection to a monitor on the ground.

The company has also developed two LED lamps that can be used as a means ofsignalling.

FR-II’s contra-rotating propellers are powered by two more powerful and ultra-thin ultrasonic motors, increasing its lifting power by 30 per cent, and newly- designed main rotors.

High-density mounting technology is used to package the microbot’s two microcontrollers, helping to reduce its weight.

To allow the robot to fly independently, Epson developed a linear actuator to control mid-air stability, which is more precise and has a faster response time than existing systems. A new gyro-sensor, which is a fifth of the weight of its predecessor, is claimed to be the smallest and lightest in the world.

Epson worked with researchers at Chiba University’s Nonami (Control and Robotics) Laboratory to develop the control system for independent flight, and a team at the Kawachi (Aeronautics and Astronautics) Laboratory at the University of Tokyo helped the company to design the rotor blade.

The FR-II will be at the Emerging Technologies Fair, part of the Future Creation Fair in Tokyo, from today.

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