Japanese Defense Ministry shows world’s first spherical flying machine

By Randolph Jonsson


Announced last summer by the Technical Research and Development Institute at Japan’s Ministry of Defense (JMD) and recently unveiled at Digital Content Expo 2011, the world’s first spherical air vehicle will likely be deployed in search and rescue operations deemed unsuitable for traditional aircraft. As for other possible uses, the sky just may be the limit.

“Because the exterior is round, this machine can land in all kinds of attitudes, and move along the ground. It can also keep in contact with a wall while flying. Because it’s round, it can just roll along the ground, but to move it in the desired direction, we’ve brought the control surfaces, which are at the rear in an ordinary airplane, to the front,” said a JMD spokesperson.

For something that looks so ungainly, the rig exhibits surprising stability. Thanks to three onboard gyro sensors, the device effectively maintains its orientation and altitude, even after collisions. Numerous control surfaces also assist with attitude control. The current prototype, which cost about US$1,400 in parts, can maintain a hover for a respectable eight minutes. Now, if only someone would perfect that light saber we’ve all been waiting for.


About the author


More posts by | Visit the site of J Williams