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US builder of caged inspection drones forges new partnership

A company that builds a “drone-in-a-cage” for confined, difficult, and GPS-denied environments has announced a distribution partnership. Drone builder Skypersonic Inc. and Minnesota’s Maverick Drone Systems are now working together. As a result, Maverick is now in a position to offer the services of the Skycopter inspection drone to its clients.

You’ve probably seen a caged drone by now. The concept first reached commercial success with the Swiss company Flyability. It developed the Elios, and then the Elios 2, for flying in very difficult situations. Think down chimneys, through ductwork, even inside oil storage tanks or underground tunnels and caves. The idea behind these drones is simple: They are protected in flight by a spherical cage, which serves as lightweight armor to shield the drone and its propulsion system. The Elios design also allows energy to be dissipated on collision by allowing the drone to spin within the sphere. If you’ve got a difficult location that might risk damaging a more conventional drone, a caged drone may well be the solution.

The Skycopter

Skypersonic has developed its own caged drone, the Skycopter. Like the Elios and Elios 2, it’s built for very demanding inspections that might not suit other designs. The Skycopter’s cage is flexible and will deform on impact to absorb energy. Here’s a look at the machine:

The US-Made Skycopter

Highly specialized

Drones like the Skycopter and Elios are highly specialized. There simply aren’t many companies building this kind of inspection drone, and relatively few service providers have access to these machines.

We are delighted to have Maverick as a distributor for our products and services. Maverick and their team of engineers, pilots, and salespeople bring a deep knowledge of all things UAV to this fast-growing space. We look forward to serving more clients in more industries through our partnership with Maverick Drone Systems.

Giuseppe Santangelo, Skypersonic CEO

GPS-denied environments

The Skycopter can also navigate areas where GPS does not reach. The company uses something it calls Skyloc technology, which it describes as “a real-time location and monitoring system able to control and track with an extremely high accuracy the movements of the drone in indoor scenarios or where GPS is not available.”

The Skyloc system in a GPS-denied environment

Up against the wall…

One other cool feature about caged drones: You can fly them up against a wall, or the seams of a tunnel, with the cage literally pushing against the wall. The pilot can then carry out some truly close-up inspection work. It would be difficult if not impossible to obtain some of this detailed imagery with a standard open quadcopter.

Taking a closer look at that wall…

Maverick drones

The company, which describes itself as a “leading distributor of innovative drone systems,” is based at a new retail location in Savage, Minnesota. We asked Maverick’s Marketing and Public Relations director, Ben Lohrding, to answer a few questions for DroneDJ.

Q: What kind of inspections is this product is best suited for?

The Skycopter is best used for inspection of tunnels, pipes, chimneys due to the surrounding cage that allows the drone to be operated in confined spaces. This also makes the Skycopter effective for nuclear inspection where inspectors are working close to nuclear silos.

Ben Lohrding, Maverick Drones
Bright LEDs allow the FPV Skycopter to shed light in total darkness

Q: Any COVID-19 applications?

There is an option to use the Skycopter for aerial application for COVID sanitation. Here is a video of that process. 

Maverick Drones

Q: Why are you confident there’s a market for the kind of work this drone can do?

We are confident that there is a market for this product because there has been a large push toward American-made drones. There are also only a few drone solutions that are capable of flying indoors. Skypersonic helps meet both of these customer needs.

Maverick Drones

And finally, this:

We are very excited to be partnering with Skypersonic to provide enterprise professionals with one of the best drones for indoor inspection. The ability for our customers to utilize Skypersonic’s global remote piloting system will change how inspections are performed in each and every industry.

Adam Shaw, CEO & president at Maverick Drone Systems

What do you think it would be like flying a drone like this? What kinds of applications do you think these would be great for? Let us know in the comments.