Drones, even the welcome kind that deliver pizza, have a reputation for being intimidating. Perhaps this wouldn't be the case if they came in the form of giant, floating balloons. Automation technology company Festo believes that helium-filled blimps are the future of drone delivery, Gizmodo reports.
The company's "autonomous flying gripping sphere"—dubbed the FreeMotionHandling—uses its opening to swallow up objects and spit them out at their destination. The gripper naturally faces down, but the drone can easily adjust its position to deposit an object like a bottle of water straight into the recipient's hand.
To maneuver around a space, the 54-inch balloon uses a ring of eight propellers and to navigate, it uses sensors installed around the room. Future models may come integrated with GPS devices.
Festo argues that this technology, combined with the blimp's soft body and lightweight propellers, could make it a safer alternative to traditional drones and a smart fit for indoor workplaces. In fact, Festo even envisions the product being used to lift human cargo in the future.
"People could be supported by the spheres, using them as a flying assistance system ... for example, when working at giddying heights or in hard-to-access areas," they suggest. You can see what the inflatable drone looks like in action in the video above.
Header/banner images courtesy of Festo via YouTube.