Danvers, Mass.-based robotics company CyPhy Works says it has been awarded a contract with the U.S. Air Force to help improve search-and-rescue operations with the use of the company's Extreme Access Pocket Flyer unmanned aerial system.
Sponsored under the Department of Defense's Rapid Innovation Fund, the company will design and test the pocket-size UAS, which can be quickly deployed for the remote inspection of collapsed structures. It will address an existing capability gap in the inspection of small passageways and tunnels that are often blocked by debris and rubble, CyPhy says.
Search-and-rescue teams currently rely on ground robots, which are more costly and can be limited by ground obstacles and steep terrain, the company explains. Target users of the new project include Pararescue, Special Forces and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Extreme Access Pocket Flyer will also be used as an airborne, in-tunnel surveillance system.
“Just like a camera, the best drone is the one you have with you,” states CEO Helen Greiner. “The market potential is one for every soldier, marine, police officer, SWAT team member, and many other jobs that expose people to danger.”
The UAS makes use of CyPhy Work’s proprietary microfilament technology to solve the mission life and non-line-of-site telemetry issues. A free-flying vehicle this size would last less than 20 minutes and would lose communications when entering a building; however, according to the company, the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer will stay aloft as long as power is supplied from the ground.
“Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), frequently placed in tunnels and culverts, are the predominant threat to our military forces,” says Matt England, Lieutenant Colonel and CyPhy Works’ vice president of government systems. “Imagine not having to get out of the protection of your armored vehicle and being able to closely inspect suspicious areas in a fraction of the time it currently takes. That’s what Extreme Access Pocket Flyer will enable.”