With No Exposed Blades, the Totally Tubular AVERO Aims to Deliver an Intrinsically Safe Drone

By hiding the spinning blades away, AVERO hopes to offer a safe platform for close-up industrial inspection work.

Gareth Halfacree
23 days agoDrones / 3D Printing

A team of mechanical engineering and industrial design students from ETH Zürich and the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK) has come up with a bizarre-looking drone, which hides its propellers away in order to offer intrinsic safety for industrial inspection work: the AVERO.

"The current state of drone technology focuses heavily on maneuverability — not on safety," the students explain of their project. "Most drones for commercial applications are severely limited in their applications as their external propellers pose significant risks to workers and fragile infrastructure like wind turbine blades. Our drone can be used by workers without any safety concerns, can withstand inspection-typical collisions and freely orient itself in space as desired."

Plumbing parts or safety-conscious drone? The AVERO is undeniably an eye-catching design. (📹: ETH Zürich)

The AVERO drone looks more like a piece of plumbing equipment than a traditional quadcopter-style drone, but its tubing serves a smart purpose: its propeller blades are located entirely within the tubes, which include controllable nozzles to allow the exhaust to be directed and the drone's flight controlled. At no point are the spinning blades exposed — meaning that even if the drone collides with something, there'll be no high-speed propeller impact.

That, the team claims, will make the AVERO ideal for industrial inspections — allowing the drone to fly up close to even sensitive structures without the risk of damage. It also gives the drone surprising maneuverability, with six degrees of freedom and the ability to easily perform even complex in-flight maneuverability — though refinement and testing of the control system is still a work in progress.

"After a week of rigorous testing," the team writes in its latest project update on LinkedIn, "we've successfully achieved altitude control for our drone and can now move it in all directions. Next up, we'll be refining the pitch, yaw, and roll control."

More information is available on the project website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles