When it comes to camera drones, the name DJI pops up. It is the leading brand that makes camera drones. A few companies have even attempted to create a ground-based mobile camera platform. DJI plans to move in that direction as well, through its new patent for a small off-road vehicle. The vehicle is going to be integrated with a stabilized camera; it is going to be an interesting design if they pull it off.
An Interesting Design
The Chinese patent, by DroneDJ, exhibits a rather serious-looking vehicle platform with chunky tires and a stabilized camera gimbal. As it is evident from the image above, the camera mount is protected against shock by pneumatics and springs. There is no doubt that the stabilizing system would react actively to sudden movements.
The image is not a simple sketch like those you see of an abstract product and patents. It looks like a muscled-out mechanical drawing of a real device. Of course, this doesn’t imply that it’s coming to the market, let alone any time soon. However, it does show that DJI’s engineers have committed time and effort in making the vision a reality.
Why Go for a Ground Drone?
The question is obvious when there are perfectly good drones for the air. One of the major merits of a ground drone is its extended battery life. Airborne drones can hover in the air for a short period and the time reduces when they’re carrying a decent camera and lens. A ground-based drone could be operated for a far longer duration. However, it does not have all the vantages of an air-based drone.
Perhaps, a wheeled drone does make sense in areas where an aerial one doesn’t. Well, for instance, do you really want to fly a drone through narrow hallways during security sweeps or at your home? More importantly, what about areas where you might encounter people? For safety’s sake, it would be better not to have to land and take off constantly.
DJI has done its research and knows that if it diversifies its offerings a bit the company could cater to various niche markets. There are so many situations where the use of drones has become common, we think of these robot-powered industries as obvious in retrospect. One such example is the winner of Techcrunch’s Startup Battlefield, Scaled Robotics, which performs painstaking automated inspections of construction sites.
In fact, DJI already produces a ground-based robotic platform, the RoboMaster S1. This is more of an educational toy but may serve as a testbed for technologies the company hopes to implement elsewhere.
It is still not clear whether the new patent will come to life and be able to see the light of day, it does make one wonder about the number of possibilities for wheeled camera platform doing serious work around homes and offices.
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