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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.
Its 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. It can fly in and out of buildings weakened by earthquakes or other natural disasters, and use its onboard camera to transmit live images of whatever it sees.
It can hover for up to eight minutes and fly at 60 kilometers per hour...although it does slow down for open windows. Stair cases can be easily negotiated by a skilled operator.
And, if its lithium polymer batteries lose power, the sphere has been designed to simply roll to a stop, minimizing the risk of damage.
Fumiyuki Sato, researcher of Technical Research and Dev. Institute, Japanese Defense Ministry, said, "Because of the spherical shape of the object, it can land in various positions and tumble to move around on the ground.."
Fumiyuki Sato, a researcher from Japan's Ministry of Defense invented and built the unmanned aerial vehicle from parts that can be found in a normal consumer electronics store.
It boasts eight maneuverable rudders, and three gyro sensors to keep it upright. Its also extremely lightweight, thanks to its carbon fiber and styrene components.
Sato's invention is a prototype, but he believes it has a big future.
He said, "When fully developed, it can be used at disaster sites or anti-terrorism operations or urban warfare,"
And in the meantime theres a lot of fun to be had, just from testing it out.