The Spirit of Czech Innovation: From Robots to Drones

Have you ever seen a drone? People use them for taking photos, videotaping, or just for the simple fun of flying. But how about a drone postman or drone firefighter? Just Czech inventions.

drone in forest
Photo: courtesy of Multi-robot Systems Group

One hundred and one years have passed since Karel Čapek, a Czech playwright, introduced the word robot to the world. Since then, robotics has advanced in unimaginable ways. Not only do we employ robots in factories, but we can also interact with AI (artificial intelligence). But that is not where it ends. The plan for the future is to robotize many more aspects of our lives. The scientists from the Czech Republic made astonishing progress in that regard.

Fire! Call the drones!

You can find drones in firefighters’ equipment today. Firefighters use them mainly for monitoring, using their mapping and infrared ability. So far, drones are not yet used for firefighting, but this could change thanks to experts from the Czech Technical University who have designed an autonomous flying assistant.

A new firefighter drone using a unique design and artificial intelligence can search high-rise and multi-story buildings floor by floor for potential fire hazards, all by itself: autonomously When the drone localizes the fire, it shoots a half-kilogram capsule with a substance that takes away the heat from the fire and reduces its intensity. The capsule deployment will give firefighters more time to reach higher floors and save lives.

Czech drones: The AirMail of the 21st Century

If you have ever heard about Amazon’s proposed drone package delivery, you will be very familiar with the project started by the Czech delivery giant Packeta. Their vision for the future of parcel delivery is up in the air, with drones transporting packages all over the big cities, later the whole country, and finally over the whole of Europe.

The drone delivery system will be just the last step in their goal to robotize the delivery industry. So far, Packeta’s storage depots are serviced by robots. Drones are the last step in innovating the whole delivery chain. How the delivery drone work is pretty simple. The drone enters their robot-run depot, picks up the package, and, guided by inner-built GPS, delivers it to your preferred location.

Hunt or be hunted

An intruder drone enters the airport or stadium airspace. It can belong to an irresponsible owner eager for exclusive footage or a terrorist trying to harm innocent people. There are many ways to neutralize such intruder drones. You can shoot them down from the ground or disrupt communication with the pilot. But both of these solutions have their risks. A falling drone can endanger people, and the machine is not always remotely controlled. 

The newly developed drone hunter might be the much-needed solution. After a series of prototypes, scientists from the Eagle.one project unveiled the finished drones for the first time. One of the versions is equipped with a net-firing canon that will immobilize the drone and carry it to safety. The second one carries the net and catches the intruder drone as a fisherman catches fish. All these ideas are ready for everyday use. The only thing standing in the way of their maximal utilization is missing laws that would set the rules and boundaries for such unmanned flying objects. It is a shame that lawmaking is not progressing as fast as technology…

Marek Koten

A Ph.D. student in economics, specializing in nuclear energy from the Czech Republic, he also serves as a political consultant to the Czech government and the U.S. Republican Party.

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