The Impeller Drone — Kung’s graduate project as part of the RCA‘s masters programme in Design Products — flies using four air blowers, instead of exposed rotor blades like most drones.
Kung created the product in an effort to make drones safer for casual users and bystanders.
“Drones are popular but they’re dangerous,” Kung told Dezeen. “The most common drone accident is people getting cut and hurt by the drones exposed rotor blades. A kid got his eyeball cut open by them.”
“So I started questioning whether there’s anything that in the future could replace rotor blades,” Kung continued. “I looked into different kinds of technologies and eventually I found this system, the blower impeller. I redesigned it, put it on the drone and started vertical takeoff tests.”
The impeller system sucks air in through the vents on the side of the drone and then accelerates it through a circular duct, creating an upward thrust as the air is pushed out through the bottom.
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For now, the motor efficiency does not compare well with a standard drone, but Kung hopes that can be improved with more development.
He has already eased the load on the drone’s four motors by creating a lightweight design with the assistance of a structural optimisation algorithm. This enabled the minimal amount of material to be used to create a structurally sound object.
An additional benefit to the Impeller Drone is that it is quieter that one operating with rotor blades. But in Kung’s eyes, preventing injury was the primary goal. Continue reading about the Impeller Drone.