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Transforming flying net drone could one day save you from a burning building

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A group of Chinese students have designed a concept drone that transforms from a regular quadcopter into a flying safety net.

Appropriately named Net Guard, the drone would be capable of rapidly expanding from a single piece into four distinct flying corners with the net held taut in the middle.

You can watch a video (resembling a cutscene from a 90s Playstation game) showing the group’s vision of how Net Guard would be deployed.

Practical considerations?

Because this drone is still at a concept stage, no working prototype has yet been constructed. That begs the question: is this even practical? One would imagine that in order to support the weight of a grown adult weighing between 120-180lbs (55-85kg), the drones going to have to be pretty big. There are few quadcopters currently being produced that are strong enough to lift people. Back in 2016, Casey Neistat made a video on his YouTube channel which showed him being lifted by his custom-made drone and there are other recent examples of multi-rotors that can carry people such as this and this.

Once the drone splits into four independent flying segments and carries the weight of a person, each rotor would have to spin at a different speed to compensate for the person’s unevenly distributed weight. We assume that if this does end up getting built into a prototype there will be extensive testing and we’ll see exactly what the Net Guard is capable of.

It certainly looks good – but will Net Guard become a reality?

Does society really need something like this?

Picture the scene: a high-rise building is on fire. The lower floors are completely ablaze and in desperation, a resident on one of the upper floor climbs onto the windowsill, peers down at the street below and prepares to jump. There are no firefighters nearby and the fire engines with ladders long enough to reach the upper floors are multiple blocks away. Before this person perishes in the inferno, a drone turns up beneath the window, allowing the person to step out and be gently lowered down to safety.

Sounds far-fetched? Considering we already have people who can surf drones through the sky or autonomous passenger drones, nothing should surprise us.

The concept has already earned the group $13,000 in prize money. Until they receive a significant financial boost, however, it will remain just a dream. Let’s hope they are successful in pushing the project to the next stage.

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