Drones are famous for their aerial capabilities; aerial photography or shutting down airports. However, a new project from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is using drones for something completely different; digging holes. The drone has been created by the NIMBUS Lab in UNL.
The drone has been equipped with a powerful drill that can be used for burrowing into the dirt, sand, or clay once the drone has landed. The basic purpose for this contraption is to burrow for scientific purposes.
It might sound simple but trust us; building a digging drone is not as simple as attaching a drill to a quadcopter. The drones don’t have large battery lives. In fact, the top-notch quality drones like DJI Mavic Pro Platinum can only survive for 30 minutes on a single charge. Incorporating a big drill that is not only heavy but also required ample energy for its own use only aggravates the problem.
NIMBUS codirector, Carrick Detweiler, said, ‘Battery powered drones have very short flight times, especially when flying with a heavy load, which we are since we have our digging apparatus and sensor system.’
The solution from NIMBUS comes in the form of increasing the number of drones. Detweiler said, ‘We need to hitch a ride on another vehicle. After flying with another drone, it parachutes in. This allows it to save energy for return trips. In this video, we used a much larger gas powered UAS with multiple hours of flight time, but our same system could be deployed from manned aircraft or other systems.’
The drone is capable of performing the drilling and parachuting on its own. However, it does require manual input when it comes to selecting the employment site. According to Detweiler, this drone by NIMBUS will be able to find its uses in scientific research that is carried out in areas that possess moist soil. The federal agencies such as USDA carry out tests for ‘managing shellfish stocks, plan dredging, and waste disposal, and construct stable roads, bridges, docks, and dams.’ Such agencies can also use this drone by NIMBUS.
There’s also a high probability that the NIMBUS driller will find military applications as well. The NIMBUS is funded partially by Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the USDA.