Mars Rover Technology Adapted to Drones

It worked for the Mars Pathfinder Rover, and it saves uncounted lives in cars, so why not adapt an airbag for the drone? This is the solution proposed by the present Japanese patent application.

Sure, you can fit a deployable parachute to your expensive quadcopter, but it’s not the perfect solution. As the application discloses, “the product of [] opens the parachute at 6 meters or more from the ground and therefore cannot produce an enough effect of reducing the falling velocity by the parachute if when a drone is at a low altitude near to the ground.” In other words, the parachute is good, but not great, “and cannot prevent damages to the main body of a drone by fall impact and to people and property at the fall point”.

The invention’s airbag creates a 2-axis (Y and Z) doughnut around the drone, a “buffer” between the drone and ground. The “buffer has a form to wrap the uninhabited airborne vehicle”. If the drone is a hexacopter or octocopter, “three circular rings may be combined to form an air bag to exist between each pair of the adjacent rotary wings. The air bag 30 should have an enough buffer performance in consideration of the maximum flight altitude and the weight of the uninhabited airborne vehicle 100.”

The airbag system is equipped with six distance sensors that are turned on as soon as the drone takes off and turned off when the drone receives instructions to land under operator control.


Claim 1 is broad and bold, and will likely be narrowed down during prosecution:

An uninhabited airborne vehicle comprising:

  • a rotary wing;
  • an airframe;
  • and a buffer that reduces impact on the airframe when crashed.




US Patent Application No: 20170152051

Filed (Japan): Nov. 26, 2015

Published: June 1, 2017

Applicant: OPTiM Corporation