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Drones From Cleo Robotics Collect Data From Tight Spaces

With the help of their own flying machines, flying drones can already travel to numerous locations where humans cannot. However, drones do have some restrictions.

Cleo Robotics' Dronut is a ducted drone that is small, easy to control, and has no exposed propeller blades as tradition quad-copter drones do. The company's TacDronut was chosen by the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office for a $2.5 million contract following an Army Innovation Day competition.


With the help of their own flying machines, flying drones can already travel to numerous locations where humans cannot. However, drones do have some restrictions. For instance, they are difficult to control and are readily harmed in cramped indoor settings.

Due to this, their employment has been restricted partly to outdoor scenarios, such as surveillance and aerial inspection applications, and increasingly, as was shown during the Russia-Ukraine War, offensive, defensive, and humanitarian scenarios in and surrounding combat zones. A significantly wider range of use cases and applications may be enabled if drone technology companies could create machines that are simpler to manage, less prone to damage, and fitted with novel capabilities like data-collecting sensors.


Dronut Drone From Cleo Robotics

Cleo Robotics, a Boston-based company, is concentrated on achieving it. The company’s Dronut is a bi-rotor ducted drone that is compact, simple to operate, and doesn’t have exposed propeller blades as conventional quad-copter drones have. It builds on a decades-old idea known as ducted aerial vehicle technology, which historically has been challenging to handle. The Dronut is therefore perfect for cramped areas, especially those that are dangerous for people to be in.

Omar Eleryan, co-founder and CEO of Cleo Robotics, told Fierce Electronics that his own experiences in the oil and gas industry as well as a personal fascination with flying vehicles served as the inspiration for the Dronut.

The oil capital of Canada, Calgary, Alberta, is where I grew up, he claimed. “I studied mechanical engineering there, and after graduating from college I followed the path taken by nearly every mechanical engineer there: I found work in the oil and gas industry. However, I didn’t major in mechanical engineering to work in the oil and gas industry. I actually did it because I’ve always been passionate about flying—rockets, aeroplanes, and the like.

Eleryan had the opportunity to check oil tanks that were buried 10 to 15 feet down while working in the oil and gas industry. These conditions were dangerous enough that inspectors required to wear masks, safety harnesses, and take other safety precautions.

He claimed, “I had to examine a number of pieces of machinery that were quite filthy, and hazardous types of conditions, and I believed humans shouldn’t be in there.” “Why not just send a robot to these environments instead of sending people to carry the cameras and take images of everything? … At the time, a flying robot essentially meant a quadcopter, and they are still not ideal in many ways.

In order to achieve more accurate control and steady operation in flight, Cleo went to the ducted design, which does not include exposed (and easily breakable) propeller blades. It then integrated its thrust vectoring technology. Overall, the ducted architecture makes the drone smaller, and Cleo’s increased efficiency.

The Dronut offers advantages over other drone types, such as quad-copters, because it is significantly smaller and more efficient, allowing it to carry more sensors and collect more data while fitting into small locations, according to Eleryan. We reasoned that if we could truly solve that problem—that ducted drones were too challenging to control—we would have something that is quite useful, and we did, in fact, solve it.

As a result, Cleo has been able to enter a number of industrial areas using its Dronut platform. It also recently achieved a significant victory in the military and defence industry. Following an Army Innovation Day competition review of disruptive and innovative technologies to solve essential critical capabilities, the company’s TacDronut was picked by the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office for a $2.5 million contract.

According to a release, the Dronut won because of its versatility in both GPS-enabled and non-GPS conditions, as well as its onboard intelligence and sensor payload, which make it extremely capable and lessen “the cognitive burden on the soldier.” This enables commanders to quickly adjust to the difficulties encountered on a battlefield that is highly fluid.

According to Nathan Rozea, project lead for the TacDronut effort at the Army RCCTO Advance Concepts and Experimentation (ACE) office, “the TacDronut sUAS project was selected as part of the Army mission to rapidly develop, test, and transition advanced technologies to address high priority items for the warfighter.” The aim of this project is to “improve air platform kinematics in support of indoor and outdoor short-range operations in complex environments to help mitigate operational gaps involving the clearing of buildings, potential tunnels, and other enclosed spaces that are very difficult for our warfighters.”

According to Eleryan, there are customers in numerous commercial industries that wish to use the Dronut in various ways. From nuclear power plants to oil and gas firms to other heavy industries, they all share the desire to employ drones to gather, examine, and process various types of data that would otherwise be risky or difficult to gather.

In fact, Eleryan claimed that he does not consider Cleo to be a drone business but rather “a hardware-enabled data collection firm,” one that presently offers raw data to its clients but eventually hopes to supply its own data analytics tools.

In general, drones have many useful applications, but, he continued, “we see big opportunities in inside, limited places.” “A lot of our clients are very interested in utilising drones in warehouses, industrial facilities, and factories. I believe that workplace collaboration and coexistence of humans and robots are what the future holds. We’re in a great position to take advantage of this change since I believe robot usage in the workplace will increase.


Omar is a co-founder and CEO of Cleo Robotics, a Boston-based business that specialises in cutting-edge sensing and intelligence and unusual flying robots. The Cleo’s Dronut is a safer, more portable, and more effective quadcopter drone that can fly in places where no other drone can and shouldn’t go.

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