Nano Drones: Nanoscience and nanotechnology (“nanotech”) are the study and application of extremely small things, that is, nanoscale, which is about 1 to 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter: ten times the diameter of a hydrogen atom. The diameter of a human hair is, on average, 80,000 nanometers. At such scales, the ordinary rules of physics and chemistry no longer operates.
Nanotechnology (or “nanotech”) is manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. It can be used across all the other fields of science, such as chemistry, biology, physics, materials science, and engineering.
The early goal was manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products (molecular nanotechnology). This means enabling them to function better, that is, fine-tuning materials at atomic, molecular and macromolecular scales, where properties differ significantly from those at a larger scale.
This means that the purpose is not just to make things smaller, but to actually alter them so that they can serve a very specific purpose.
Such technology is behind unmanned air systems (UAS), which has taken off in recent years, and as a result, UAS can fly faster and further than ever before, and thus perform ever more sophisticated surveillance operations.
Developments in size, weight and power have optimized technologies, which have made smaller man-portable systems more flexible in tactical capability, thereby enhancing larger medium- altitude long-endurance (MALE) class UASs built by leading manufacturers, like Northrop Grumman and General Atomics.
This jump in capability has been strengthened by the development of microelectro-mechanical system (MEMS) variants on mission-critical components, such as accelerometers and gyroscopes, as well as the miniaturization of various crucial parts.
The pursuit of ever-smaller and lighter subsystems has driven the development of nanotechnology and nanoelectromechanical systems. But the implementation of nano-scale technologies in UAS, in particular, presents unique challenges. One way research labs have sought to overcome these difficulties is by trying to replicate the aerodynamic systems found in insects and birds. This means insect-inspired miniaturization, that is, working in synergy with the natural world rather than trying to copy it.
Dragonfly project is developing an insect-controlled backpack with integrated energy, guidance and navigation systems that turns dragonfly insects into cyborg drones. The tiny backpack is placed on the back of the insect, including a solar panel, and it is combined with optogenetics to stimulate the 16 specific neurons that correspond to flight in dragonflies. Dragonfly’s real-life dragonfly can hunt and consume biomatter from its environment to store and recharge energy in its body.
Robots/drones are helping to fight the global COVID-19 pandemic, which is challenging healthcare systems and medical professionals around the world. Due to how very contagious COVID-19 is, it is safer if human-to-human contact is minimized and since robots are immune to infection, they are ideally suited to deliver medical supplies and medicines within healthcare environments through autonomous vehicles and robots.
Telemedicine, with the help of robots/drones, makes it possible for medical professionals to communicate with patients remotely, which saves time and hopefully allows contagious patients to stay confined. Not only can robots communicate with individuals quarantined due to a coronavirus diagnosis, they can also gain vital patient information and even help doctors treat patients.
At the Wuchang Smart Field Hospital in China, a sports center was converted into a robot-led field hospital staffed entirely by robots and other smart (internet) devices. One ward was staffed with fourteen 5G-powered robots to not only help alleviate the strain on human personnel, but to contain the contagion. The robots, some of which are more humanoid than others, can clean and disinfect, deliver medicine to patients, and measure patients’ temperature.
As people enter the hospital, an infrared thermometry system checks peoples’ temperature. If they show fever symptoms, the AI platform would alert human medical staff, who were also equipped with these smart devices to monitor their own vitals to catch any potential early symptoms of infection.
One of their humanoids (service robots) was called Ginger, who helped with hospital admissions, education services, and entertainment. But that is not all! In addition to her administrative responsibilities, Ginger helped lift the spirits of bored quarantined patients by entertaining them with dancing.
Robots & Flying Robots
In addition to entertainment, robots and flying robots, are also proving to be valuable by offering contactless delivery options by delivering essential items to people who shop and purchase online and are quarantined at home.
The ability of nano drones to be compact and undetectable is a major advantage since the lives of pilots, airmen and police are not at risk with these small, unmanned crafts. The financial advantages are also huge in nano drone services. Whereas the average nano drone costs about $40 – $50 per hour to operate compared to helicopters and planes which can cost between $600 to $20,000 per hour.
Aside from the larger military-style drones and the larger drones used by the police, nano drones are most likely to be the most dominant drone force in the future, and, as it happens, the biggest threat to privacy as well, which, of course, is of concern.
Present & Future Opportunities
There have been a lot of ground-breaking developments in the area of nanotechnology, and entrepreneurs who invested earlier in the industry are reaping a harvest.
Nanotechnology is still in its early stages, so this is the right time to invest in nano drone technology!
Products based on nanotechnology are already in use and analysts expect markets to grow by millions of dollars and hundreds of billions of euros during this decade.