CyPhy Works Lands Military Deal For “Pocket Drone”

CyPhy Works has been awarded a contract with the Air Force to build a small drone for search-and-rescue operations, its second military contract.

The Danvers, MA-based company said today that it will design and test the Extreme Access Pocket Flyer, a drone that’s about 7 inches by 7 inches wide and few inches thick. That makes it small enough to be easily carried by military personnel, who could use it to look for bombs without getting out of a vehicle.

The Pocket Flyer takes advantage of CyPhy Works’ core innovation: a fiber optic tether that allows the operator to remotely control and power the device over a secure and reliable connection. The pocket drone will also have a panoramic camera that will provide a video feed to the remote operator.

“Just like a camera, the best drone is the one you have with you,” CyPhy Works CEO and founder Helen Greiner said in a statement. “The market potential is one for every soldier, Marine, police officer, SWAT team member, and many other jobs that expose people to danger.”

Using a flying device for remote inspection of small passageways and tunnels is more effective than using a ground robot, which can have trouble getting over obstacles, the company says.

In July, CyPhy Works won an Army award to evaluate the company’s PARC aerial drone for providing “situational awareness.” The company hasn’t disclosed the size of either contract.

By targeting military customers first, the company is following a path to commercialization similar to iRobot, which Greiner also co-founded. But CyPhy Works has plans to use its unmanned aerial vehicles in industry. For example, its tethered robots can be used for inspecting infrastructure, such as bridges and cell phone towers.

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