Is This The World’s Dumbest Drone?

Nah, just clumsy--and that's an asset!

This little drone only seems dumb. While its nimble brethren navigate corridors and zip in and out of windows, the Swiss-designed AirBurr crashes into just about everything, like an old rummy at last call.

There’s a reason for all that clumsiness: Crashing into walls helps the AirBurr map unknown surroundings. Each time it smacks into something, the drone rights itself with four retractable carbon fiber legs, then remembers what it ran into. Gizmag explains how:

By analyzing the position and force of its collisions, the AirBurr is able to gradually map out its surroundings, establishing where the various boundaries lie–it’s not unlike the random direction algorithm-based systems used by robotic vacuum cleaners, to learn the layout of the floor around them.

The AirBurr could be used to map building interiors that are not safe for people, such as collapsed buildings after an earthquake or hostile buildings during a raid.

Watch the AirBurr bounce into things here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm90IV3tMjI
Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Athertonis a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.