Autonomous Indoor Robotic Blimps

Technology #7136

Background: Robotic platforms are an integral part of research and development in the field of autonomy, particularly with the advent of highly maneuverable and simple multi-copters. Limited flight time and safety of the personnel around multi-copters are the major concerns which limit the applications to mostly outdoors applications of approximately 30 minutes. There is a need for technology with longer flight time and is safe for interaction with human beings.

Technology: Researchers have developed a miniature autonomous blimp which can be used to support research in the areas of human robot interaction, swarming, and environmental mapping and education. The blimp is comprised of an envelope and a customized gondola. The saucer shape of the envelope was chosen to make the blimp stable along two axes of rotation. The gondola contains four propellers driven by four motors to control the vertical and horizontal motion of the blimp. The gondola also harbors the electronics and electrical components of the blimp including a processor, wireless communication module, a camera, IMU, a battery and sensors. The modular design of the blimp allows for various types of sensors to attach to the blimp including range sensor, light sensor, humidity sensor, sound sensor, CO2 sensors, etc.  

Commercial Applications: 

·  Human robot interaction- facial recognition and recognizing human gestures

·  Swarming and environmental mapping

·  Personal shopping aid in a supermarket

·  Group guiding

·  Swarming research, surveillance, inspection of structures, and videography

·  Adolescent education regarding design and human robot interaction

Benefits & Advantages: 

  • Miniature and low cost
  • Flight duration of more than 4 hours
  • Safe interaction with humans
  • Carefully chosen design to provide stability in 2 axes.


Fumin Zhang

Vivek Mishra

Jesse Varnell

Sungjin Cho

Quiyang Tao

Phillip Sung Tse Cheng