The Cyclodrone could keep cyclists safe on the road.

From Business Insider:

For some, the word "drone" may conjure images of scary flying machines going off to battle. Many researchers, however, are looking at new ways of using drones here in the U.S., and they could soon be more common than you'd expect. 

With the unveiling of four new unmanned aircraft concepts, the industrial design team at frog is looking to clean up the drone's image. 

"They can go places that we can't easily or safely go. The vantage point they can get as an extension of our field of view is something that's very valuable in first response situations and even everyday life," frog interaction designer Eric Boam said to Business Insider. "That ability is the root of their ability to do good."

Frog hopes to demonstrate these positive applications with their four new concept designs, and they all look like something out of a sci-fi movie. 

One, dubbed the Cyclodrone, was inspired by one designer's frequent rides in the hills of Oakland, Calif. The concept calls for a drone that would fly in front of and behind cyclists to alert drivers of their approach.

"You see cyclists but it's often not until it's too late," Cormac Eubanks, who headed the survival drone design team, said to Business Insider. "Any advance warning could make a difference." 

The Cyclodrone would be connected to a cyclist's phone via Bluetooth and would follow a preprogrammed route. Still, Eubanks admits that a more powerful battery and efficient motor would have to be developed for the Cyclodrone to become a reality. 

Another survival drone, named the Firestorm, would be able to fly into burning buildings to give firefighters a better assessment of conditions and even find people trapped inside. 

Firestorm drone

The Firestorm could help first responders.

"We're envisioning one that could be thermally insulated and go inside hot environments, so that if something happens, it's not the loss of life of a firefighter, just a piece of technology," Eubanks said. "The loss to human life would be considerably less." 

There's also the Snow Cyclops, which could be a cheaper and safer alternative to current avalanche control technologies, and the Hummingbird and Beetle, an autonomous farming system that could potentially open up land previously inaccessible for farming. 

snow cyclops

The Snow Cyclops was designed to prevent avalanches.

While we probably won't see these drones fighting fires in the next few months, the frog team says that a future filled with helpful drones could only be a few years off. 

"Right now it's just a concept, a kind of blue-sky approach to how we could create drones that were less intimidating," Eubanks said. "There is a level of engineering and technical scrutiny we would need to make these a reality." 

Among the main concerns are communication and safety — they would have to figure out how to keep the drones from running into people, landmarks, and each other, for one. They aren't any legal guidelines for the use of drones in everyday life, either.

"A lot of things need to happen for there to be that ubiquity," Eubanks said. 

The public's attitude towards unmanned aircraft would have to go through a change as well, though the designers are optimistic that this could happen over time. 

"As drones evolve and their look and feel changes to more readily show their will be easier for people to accept them," Boam said. 

Eubanks agreed that people's relationship to drones could change, comparing it to other technologies that seemed intimidating in the past. 

"A lot of technologies start as military applications, like GPS started as a way to direct fleets and military units," Eubanks said. "So I think drones have that same potential." 

Views: 1923

Comment by Joshua Johnson on January 28, 2014 at 10:40pm

I absolutely love the last concept photo!  I am eagerly awaiting for the day this becomes reality and not a concept.

Comment by Gisela & Joe Noci on January 28, 2014 at 11:38pm

Cylodrone is not the greatest name, maybe cyclocopter i or perhaps psychocopter - better suited to all these flying lawnmower users...


Comment by Euan Ramsay on January 29, 2014 at 12:14am

Meanwhile..back in the real world...

a) I'm finishing off the final bits on my payload dropper (after making a schoolboy CAD error for the Carbon Fibre part), and with APM 3.2 and Nicodrones' magno dropper, you'll be able to designate drops by waypoints. Originally for SAR duty, but with a series of payload frames, you'll be able to use it for anything.

b) I'm already equipping a quad with 2 x 9800 lumen spotlights for SAR duty, and am looking at a gimballed version as well (only one light though). Some guys already have FLIR onboard, but mostly use it for viewing through gaps for life signs (windows, doors, the roof etc). A fair bit more practical than trying to enter burning buildings with it (heat, updrafts, visibility, obstacles etc).

c) Having already tried a cycle with a "follow me" camera rig behind, I can - from personal experience - say the world is not ready for "drones" *cough* blatting down 60kph, narrow alpine descents (Yes, I'm in Switzerland), 3m from the road. Apart from the fact, the only intelligence used is GPS and route follow, it means collisions with street furniture and trees and interesting interviews with the police is almost guaranteed. Oh and it was very stressful and dangerous. And not the best way to get footage of cyclists, frankly, and I don't recommend it. MTB footage, however...much more practical.


Anyone can do blue sky thinking, Sci-fi is great because you don't need to worry about practicalities or the laws of physics and anyone can publish fuzzy warm-feeling articles from the "inflated expectations" part of the curve. But as a community, I think it's time to actually start delivering on the promises this technology can make...or at least resist the urge to inflate expectations any further.

Comment by Peter Glukhovsky on January 29, 2014 at 3:28am

  I  built my cyclodrone last summer,  now fitted with 50w RGB LED and no remote needed  because of "follow me"  feature

Comment by Euan Ramsay on January 29, 2014 at 3:35am
Peter...I don't think that's what Frog had in mind :-)

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 29, 2014 at 3:59am

@Euan when unmanned aircraft actually work its boring and that is what we should aim to achieve.  I fly every week on a wildlife project just boring circles into the sky and its dull.

Comment by Euan Ramsay on January 29, 2014 at 4:06am
Yup, agreed.
Comment by Jack Crossfire on January 29, 2014 at 4:35am

Want to get paid by the concept.

Comment by Bill Bonney on January 29, 2014 at 10:33am

I worked with people from frogdesign while at Nokia. This is just some clever marketing to drum up business. And the concept images look like they have been created very quickly.

"There is a level of engineering and technical scrutiny we would need to make these a reality." 

You don't say ;)

Comment by Euan Ramsay on January 29, 2014 at 12:28pm

Lol Bill. That's one bit of sarcasm that came across perfectly online! :-)


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