CyPhy Works has received a contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to help enhance search and rescue (SAR) operations.
Under the contract, the company will design and test a compact, versatile drone, called Extreme Access Pocket Flyer, which can be quickly deployed for remote inspection of collapsed structures.
Funded under the Rapid Innovation Fund, Extreme Access Pocket Flyer project seeks to address an existing capability gap in the remote inspection of small passageways and tunnels that are often blocked by debris and rubble.
CyPhy Works Government Systems vice-president Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Matt England said: "Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), frequently placed in tunnels and culverts, are the predominant threat to our military forces.
"Imagine not having to get out of the protection of your armoured vehicle and being able to closely inspect suspicious areas in a fraction of the time it currently takes.
"That’s what Extreme Access Pocket Flyer will enable."
CyPhy Works CEO Helen Greiner said: "The market potential is one for every soldier, marine, police officer, swat team member and many other jobs that expose people to danger."
Equipped with hot swappable batteries, the drone is expected to use CyPhy Work’s proprietary microfilament technology to solve the mission life and non-line-of-site telemetry issues.
Extreme Access Pocket Flyer will stay aloft as long as power is supplied from the ground, while a free-flying vehicle of similar size would last less than twenty minutes and would lose communications upon entry into a building.
The drone can also be used as an airborne in-tunnel surveillance system and is being developed for Pararescue, Special Forces and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) communities.
SAR operations currently depend on costly ground robots, whose functions can be limited by ground obstacles and steep terrain.
Image: Extreme Access Pocket Flyer will address the current capability gap in the remote inspection of small passageways and tunnels. Photo: courtesy of CyPhy Works Inc.