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Engineers from New Zealand presented an open draft of the drone aerostat on Raspberry Pi



Engineers from New Zealand presented an open draft of the aerostat drone, made from available components. It consists of a balloon and a 3D printing housing with three screws for flight control. The hull is fastened to the balloon with velcro. Microcomputer Raspberry P is responsible for the drone control. The documentation for self-assembly is available on GitHub.  An article describing the development will be published in the IEEE Access, and its preprint is available on the authors' website.
 
To date, the vast majority of civil unmanned aerial vehicles have a multi-copier design. The popularity of this model is due to the simplicity of design and control (if compared to drones of aircraft type). But you have to pay for this simplicity. The main drawback of the model is quite low flight efficiency. The flight time is usually 20-30 minutes. In addition, multi-compactors have to rotate the propellers at high speed, which makes them noisy and dangerous, so indoors such devices try not to use.

GAL GORJUP and MINAS LIAROKAPIS from Auckland University have created an inexpensive drone that lacks most of these shortcomings. They chose the design of the balloon because it has neutral buoyancy and only uses energy for manoeuvres. It has a soft hull, so it's not so dangerous to humans. The engineers chose helium as the gas because of its safety and low enough density. After evaluating five different balls, they chose a 91 centimetre diameter ball with a foil surface. It is capable of lifting a weight of 80 grams. Thanks to its metallized surface, helium remains in it for quite a long time.



The aerostat gondola consists of a body printed on a 3D printer. Three rotors with screws are attached to it: two on the sides for longitudinal flights and turns, and another one is mounted at the bottom and is responsible for height control. Inside the case the microcomputer Raspberry Pi Zero W, the camera and the battery on 500 milliampere-hours is established.

Gondola is attached to the balloon on Velcro. Engineers have made two fixing places on it, one of which is located in the center and the second is shifted to the edge. Test flights have shown that when the gondola is asymmetrically positioned, the device maintains a more stable longitudinal course during the flight. In addition, the drone was able to fly relatively accurately in a circular trajectory by receiving data on its position from the external tracking system.

Last year, Japanese engineers created another drone aerostat with a spherical ball. It has an even safer design. It uses piezoelectric motors for manoeuvring rather than rotating screws.

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