Space & Innovation

Bubble Delivery Drone Sucks Up Package, Poops It Out

The FreeMotionHandling indoor flying object, goes anywhere, independently picking up and dropping off items where they're required.


This spherical bubble drone is at your service. The helium-filled FreeMotionHandling flyer from Germany-based Festo has a unique gripper designed to gently pluck objects and deposit them anywhere.

Unlike other grippers we've scene on robotic devices that work more like a rudimentary hand, clamping or pinching an object, this grabber is a sleeve also filled with helium. It slips down over an apple or a bottle, and then uses compression to hold tight. The maximum weight so far is less than a pound, so only small packages for now.

9 Stunning Aerial Images Captured By Drones: Photos

At fifty-four inches in diameter, this drone might seem obtrusive, but the transparent shell and floaty flight make it a lovely site.

It's powered by four horizontal rotors and four vertical steering drives attached to a carbon fiber ring around the middle. The ring also supports circuit boards and a Wi-Fi router.


Two onboard cameras - one located on the gripper and another on the outer sleeve - assist the drone in detecting objects as well as delivery locations.

The drone is neutrally buoyant and can rotate the angle of delivery to pluck an object from a ceiling or "hand" a parcel to a person. In other words, it doesn't need to pick up or set down objects from the ground.

Fairy Tales Inspire War Drones

At the moment, the air vehicle relies on a room equipped with 10 infrared cameras and eight infrared LED markers that track the sphere as it flies around. That data is sent to a computer that sends information back to the sphere to keep it on the right path.

But this is just a test model and future versions could use onboard GPS, cameras and other sensors to give the flyer realtime free motion. Take a look at the video below to see it in action.

click to play video

From their high perspective and discreet presence, drones have the ability to capture unique aerial images. Mobile app maker Dronestagram saw the potential for a contest and this year's winners are truly inspiring. Dronestagram executives, along with staff from National Geographic, reviewed more than 5,000 photos taken by drones around the world to identify the top winners. Here, you'll find aerial imagery ranging from snorkelers in French Polynesia to a cliff diver in Mazatlan, Mexico. Enjoy! Above: This photo radiates suspense as snorkelers swim in the center of eight gliding sharks in French Polynesia. The photo took top honors in the "Nature" category.

A custom-built drone rose above the fog to capture this photograph of the cross at the top of the Cathedral of Maringa in Brazil. It won first prize in the "Places" category.

In the "Dronies" category, which represents selfie-like photos taken with drones, an image of a group of people dressed like they are out of a Where’s Wally scene (better known as Where’s Waldo in America) won first place. Where were they really? At Limassol Carnival in Cyprus.

This picture of participants at the very beginning of La Jolla, San Diego’s Pier-To-Cove ocean race took second in the "Nature" category.

Taking second place in the "Places" category, this photo of the Mont Saint-Michel island commune in Normandy, France, features calm waters, a gorgeous landmark and a spectacular sky.

This photo features Plovdiv, an ancient Bulgarian city, lit up magically at night. The image took second price for the "Popular" category, which represents the most-liked photos.

Taking third place in the "Nature" category, this photo of a tropical island in French Polynesia shows spectacular aerial imagery of a group of people with their toes in the water, along with lush trees and a breathtaking sky. Look closely and you’ll also find a hidden rainbow.

This image of a colorful field of tulips in the Netherlands and a group of people strolling trough them took third prize in the "Places" category.

This adventure-packed photo features a cliff diver in Mazatlan, Mexico, about to plummet into crystal clear water. This image was awarded third place for the "Popular" category.