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A startup from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) has developed a new kind of ring-shaped drone which uses just two propellers as its source of lift and as a stabilization system. The dual rotor system, along with the drone’s small size makes the drone perfect for inspection of hard to reach areas such as ducts.

Small drones are usually limited with their short flight time, this is often due to a bad ratio between the weight of the batteries used and the small propellers that create lift. Engineers have been working to find ways to optimize the flight time of smaller drones, however no real long term solution has been found. 

Samir Bouabdallah, founder of Flybotix, the company developing the ring shaped drone, has utilized his experience in drone development to address the above problem. Getting his inspiration from dual rotor helicopters, Bouabdallah has designed the drone’s propulsion system using two propellers and a stabilization mechanism based on algorithms matching the tilt of the propellers. This makes the drone quieter than most other quadcopters, as well as keeping it aerodynamically efficient and stable.

By cutting the number of propellers and making each blade larger, the efficiency of the propulsion system increases. This means that the same battery operating a traditional quadcopter can power the Flybotix drone of the same size for twice as long.

The propellers are surrounded by a foam ring, making the drone capable of bumping into walls and tight spaces without crashing.

Actu.epfl.ch mentions that the Chinese market has shown interest in the drone, with the first order of drones expected to be used for inspections of hard to reach places in critical plants, such as oil rigs and factories.