March 7, 2009 Autonomous flying quadcopter robots built from off-the-shelf parts in €300 kits (US$380), could establish radio networks for phones and wireless Internet in disaster zones. The system is being developed by German researchers at the Ilmenau University of Technology, which is seeking phD students to assist with the project.
When infrastructure is damaged or destroyed, it’s vital that people are able to access information or call for help, and that teams on the ground can communicate efficiently. The quadcopter bots could provide ad-hoc, temporary networks for communication more quickly than technicians on the ground.
The bots are equipped with satellite navigation, GPS, and VIA Pico-ITX hardware. They are designed to fly to various points on high ground, for example the top of a building, and provide network coverage.
But while the bots themselves cost €300, the batteries to power them cost €1,000 (US$1,265), and provide just 20 minutes of flying time. After the bot has landed, it can remain operational for “several hours.”