Our Prototypes column introduces new vehicle concepts and presents visuals from designers who illustrate the ideas. Some of them will be extensions of existing concepts, others will be new, some will be production ready, and others really far-fetched.
The Sentinel is an electric, single-rotor, flying saucer drone. It was inspired by the Canadian Avro VZ-9 prototype built in 1959. Just as its name implies, this concept could be used as a really fast surveillance drone with no external propellers.
In the late 1950s, a secret military prototype aircraft was built by Avro Canada. It was shaped like a flying saucer and it used the coanda effect to provide lift and thrust from a single"turborotor." With today’s new lightweight materials, more powerful turbines, and improvements in flight controls, is it possible to build a fully functional and efficient electric flying saucer?
How it works
The Sentinel would be the size of common recreational drones. The hull would be built with composite material to make it as weightless as possible, but still strong and resistant. Due to its circular shape, cameras placed at regular intervals in the body would permit the Sentinel to film in 360 degrees, offering a panoramic view of its surroundings.
The turborotor would sit in the centre of the vehicle with enclosed edges, so no propellers would come in contact with the operators. The turborotor would create a downward thrust, and part of the forced air would be bled off to power control systems positioned along the outer rim of the disk. The electric motor would be silent, and the batteries would simultaneously power the motor and the payload. The body could also be plastered with solar cells to recharge its batteries while flying.
The Sentinel would use an advanced flight control software to position itself in strategic locations. Obviously, it could also be remotely controlled, but an internal AI within the Sentinel would be much harder to hack. The Sentinel could even film in the worst weather: it would have water protection so that the cameras could film 24/7, and its advanced autopilot would keep it stable even in turbulence.
What it’s used for
On top of its surveillance function, the Sentinel could also be used to film college and professional soccer or football games, providing an excellent 360-degree view that could be streamed to YouTube VR channels. It could also be used to film in a forest, and the enclosed single turborotor would mean a lower cost and lesser risks of hurting someone or damaging nature.
I would like to thank Adolfo Esquivel, who designed the Sentinel. Esquivel earned an Industrial design degree in Colombia and completed a postgraduate study on Events Design at the UQAM of Montreal. He currently works as a Senior Industrial Designer for the Holodeck Factory. He also created the design of the Sfear mountain theme park and the Shenza ice carving kart concept.
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