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Voliro’s concept hexacopter performs acrobatic stunts with ease

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It really feels like 2017 is the year of the drone. We got news that Drone Racing League is returning to ESPN in June, the DJI Spark wowed us as “the best starter drone on the market right now,” and there’s even a Kickstarter for a water-friendly drone from SwellPro that floats. Now, Voliro’s concept hexacopter is here — an acrobatic wonder drone that can stably fly in an array of arial configurations, thanks to individually tiltable axes.

An interdisciplinary team of 11 college students from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) and Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), Voliro set forth with the goal of designing a hexacopter that could not only take on any aerial direction, but perform an air-to-wall transition with ease. It’s now been working on the project for nine months, documenting the progress along the way, and just debuted the final prototype via a demo video.

The video splits between the darkly elegant prototype, splashed with generous doses of dramatic fog, and more casual shots of a test room with a slightly different version that demonstrates the drone’s capabilities. The hexacopter dances in the air, exercises some intentional wobbles, slowly does a static flip, and pirouettes on a tilt. It’s incredibly impressive, even if it’s a distance from how Voliro envisions the final product.

While Voliro’s main selling point is those sweet, tiltable axes, it says the hexacopter will also eventually have a center sphere (so it can roll omnidirectionally on the ground). The axes should also give it the ability to fly parallel to a wall, and aerial stability in any configuration with 12 degrees of freedom.

It remains to be seen if Voliro’s acrobatic drone will ever go to market, but in the meantime, it’s a ton of fun to watch.

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