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Flying sphere goes where man fears to tread

Thursday, Jul 14, 2011 - 01:49

July 14 - Researchers from Japan's Ministry of Defense have developed an unmanned aerial vehicle with a difference. It's a radio-controlled sphere about twice the size of a basketball, designed to land in hazardous environments without breaking. Rob Muir reports.

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EDITORS NOTE: EDIT INCLUDES CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL It's developers call it the "Futuristic Circular Flying Object" and it's designed to go where humans can't. The unmanned aerial vehicle has been built for search and rescue operations; to fly in and out of buildings weakened by earthquakes or other natural disasters, using its onboard camera to transmit live images of whatever it sees. It can hover for up to eight minutes and fly at 60 kilometres per hour...although it does slow down for open windows. Stair cases are easily negiotiated by a skilled operator and if the airrcraft's lithium polymer batteries lose power, the sphere has been designed to simply roll to a stop, minimising the risk of breakage SOUNDBITE: FUMIYUKI SATO - TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, JAPANESE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE, SAYING: "Because of the spherical shape of the object, it can land in various positions and tumble to move around on the ground.." Fumiyuko Sato, a researcher from Japan's Ministry of Defense invented and built the unmanned aerial vehicle from parts purchased off the shelf at consumer electronics stores. It boasts eight manoeuverable rudders and three gyro sensors to keep it upright. And it's extremely lightweight, thanks to its carbon fiber and styrene components. Sato's invention is a proto-type, but he believes it has a big future. SOUNDBITE: FUMIYUKI SATO - TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, JAPANESE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE, SAYING: "When fully developed, it can be used at disaster sites or anti-terrorism operations or urban warfare," And in the meantime Sato says, there's the pure fun of testing it. Rob Muir, Reuters

Flying sphere goes where man fears to tread

Thursday, Jul 14, 2011 - 01:49

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