The US Air Force has contracted CyPhy Works to develop and test a micro-unmanned air vehicle (UAV) for search and rescue operations.
The contract for the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer is the first for the UAV, and will aid personnel in inspection of small passageways and tunnels.
Work will include the design and testing of the UAV, and comes under the US Department of Defense’s rapid innovation fund.
“The current approach used by search and rescue operations relies on costly ground robots that can be limited by ground obstacles and steep terrain,” the company says.
CyPhy will target para-rescue operators, special forces and the Federal Emergency Management Agency as potential adopters of the system.
The system utilises the company’s microfilament technology, which overcomes endurance and line-of-sight problems common with operating this size of UAV.
“A free-flying vehicle this size would last less than 20min and would lose communications when entering a building,” CyPhy says. “By contrast, the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer will stay aloft as long as power is supplied from the ground, and its batteries will be 'hot swappable'.”
"Improvised explosive devices, frequently placed in tunnels and culverts, are the predominant threat to our military forces," says Matt England, CyPhy Works vice-president of government systems. "Imagine not having to get out of the protection of your armoured 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."