The Civil Engineering Institute at Texas Tech University, in a paper published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes how it built a flying quadcopter that’s smaller than a smartphone.
The drone can carry a payload of up to 300 kilograms (500 pounds) and will fly at up to 200 feet per second.
Its design uses two main elements: a propeller, a camera, and a quadcopters engine.
The drone will be used for demonstrations, but the team says the design could be used to build small autonomous cars or even small aerial robots for remote sensing and robotics applications.
The team also suggests a drone could help farmers in rural areas to collect rainwater.
The paper was written by Taitong Hu, a graduate student in the Civil Engineering Department, and colleagues from Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin.
Hu and colleagues have been working on the project for about two years, Hu said.
Hu’s research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense.