The Cleo Robotics Dronut X1 for Indoor, GPS-Denied Environments Is Ready to Ship

BY Zacc Dukowitz
2 December 2021

The Dronut X1 is the first bi-rotor ducted-fan drone, which means it’s the first drone built without exposed rotor blades.

Credit: Cleo Robotics

The design works due to a patented thrust vectoring technology that allows the drone to stay stable while in flight. In addition to the thrust vectoring tech, the Dronut X1 uses counter-rotating propellers positioned on top of each other and surrounded by an enclosure to maintain stability.

The design allows the drone to fly quite close to people or objects, because it can collide and continue flying without hurting itself or the things—or people—it might run into. For the same reason, it can take off from and land safely on a person’s hand.

From Concept to Ready-to-Ship

The Dronut X1 is the creation of Cleo Robotics, a Boston-based drone company that first unveiled the ducted-fan concept in 2019 in this short video:

Cleo - The drone of the future

Since then, the company has been hard at work to create a viable version of the concept that it could deliver at scale. The result is the Dronut X1, which costs $9,800 and is now ready to ship.

Here are the specs for the Dronut X1:

  • Size. 6.5” x 4”.
  • Weight. 15 ounces / .94 pounds.
  • Flight time. 12 minutes.
  • Speed. 13 feet/second.

Credit: Cleo Robotics

And here are the standout features for the Dronut X1:

  • Airframe. Made from light, rugged carbon fiber composite materials.
  • GPS-denied. Can fly in indoor locations where GPS is unavailable.
  • Collision tolerant. Can fly in confined spaces where collisions are more likely without posing a danger to itself or people in the area.
  • Sensor payload. Comes with a 4K camera, a 3D LiDAR sensor, and a Global shutter camera.
  • Easy to fly. Comes with autonomous navigation features powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon and an onboard LiDAR sensor.
  • Lighting. Equipped with LED headlights to enable visual data collection in low-light indoor environments.

The Dronut X1 is the first drone in the world that’s based on ducted-fan drone technology that performs as well as a quadcopter drone in terms of maneuverability, but exceeds the performance of quadcopters in terms of flight time and the ability to bump into things, especially in its current form factor.

– Omar Eleryan, Founder and CEO of Cleo Robotics

Uses Cases for the Dronut X1

Despite it’s slick, compact design, the Dronut X1 is actually made for inspection work in rugged industrial environments.

Like Flyability’s Elios 2, one of the primary use cases for the Dronut X1 is flying inside of industrial assets, like boilers and pressure vessels, for visual data collection.

This visual data is used by inspectors to identify defects within the assets that may require maintenance. Without the use of a drone or some other type of robotic that can enter these areas to collect visual data, inspectors have to enter themselves and face the dangers of confined space entry, as well as the dangers of working at height on scaffolding or by using ropes so they can reach all parts of the interior of the asset.

Credit: Cleo Robotics

While Flyability solves the problem of potential collisions in these indoor environments by placing a cage around its drones and building shock tolerance into its design, Cleo Robotics solves the same problem by hiding the drone’s propellers altogether and equipping it with LiDAR obstacle detection.

Here are some of the primary use cases for the Dronut X1:

  • Inspections. Collecting visual data remotely inside confined spaces, such as tanks, pressure vessels, or boilers.
  • Law enforcement. Capturing live visual data during a high-risk scenario, such as one involving an active shooter, to inform tactical decision-making.
  • Security. Serving as a flying surveillance camera for facility security that doesn’t run the risk of harming people or property (or itself).
  • Defense. Collecting visual data in GPS-denied environments for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes.
  • Insurance. Collecting visual data for insurance-related work—insurance company FM Global is reportedly already using the Dronut X1 in the field.

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