South Korean smartphone and electronics giant Samsung looks set to take on the crowded consumer drone market with its own drone, according to a patent that has only just been published by the US Patents & Trademark Office.
And not just any drone – with Samsung now officially the first maker of smartphones to seriously consider entering into the ever-growing drone market, the tech giant is planning to do what no dronemaker has done before.
That is, create a drone that is in effect, a folding, next-generation accessory for its own Galaxy phones.
The patent explicitly references a drone with folding arms, lots of specific sensors, at least one camera, gyroscope, accelerometer and a barometer.
Though it is not possible to say if and when it will arrive on the market, currently only existing in the abstract world of patents, Samsung are hoping to address with the development of their drone a number of pressing issues.
The patent notes that while unmanned aerial vehicles have historically been developed for military and reconnaissance purposes, the addition of cameras to drones has resulted in unprecedented popularity in commercial and consumer markets.
Of course, while propellor and body size enhance the flight capabilities of drones, unwieldy sizes can hamper their desirability in a consumer market where portability is key to many applications.
To this end, the patent states that Samsung’s drone could involve arms that fold within the main frame structure of the body:
“Accordingly, an aspect of the present disclosure provides a transformable drone in which an arm for fixing a propeller can be folded and unfolded against a main body (or an airframe) which may provide a transformable unmanned aerial vehicle which combines portability and flight performance through a transformable main body (or an airframe).”
The device has the usual tech including ability to be wirelessly controlled via a smartphone, tablet or PC – basically, by any “electronic device”, which Samsung says could even be a home appliance such as a washing machine, a wearable device or even a “body-mounted type” or “bio-implantable type” such as chips implanted under the skin.
“In accordance with an aspect of the disclosure, there is provided an unmanned aerial vehicle. The unmanned aerial vehicle includes a housing with a first housing structure and a second housing structure, a wireless communication circuit coupled to the housing or located inside the housing for wireless communication with an external controller, a plurality of propulsions systems coupled to the housing, and a navigation circuit configured to control the plurality of propulsion systems. At least one of the plurality of propulsion systems includes a plurality of folding arms pivotally coupled to one of the first housing structure and the second housing structure, a motor controlled by the navigation circuit, and a propeller coupled to the motor.”
What is interesting about the housing structure is that the drone is comprised of two compartments that slide together to form a compact, portable unit.
“In both of the first housing structure and the second housing structure, the housing is configured to have a first length in a first state and have a second length longer than the first length in a second state, the housing has at least one recess to accommodate at least part of the plurality of propulsion systems in the second state, and the unmanned aerial vehicle is configured to fly by using the plurality of propulsion systems located outside the recess in the first state.”
As with other drone apps, Samsung intend to include joystick-like controls that can be manipulated via the smartphone screen.
There’s no surprise that a drone from one of the world’s leading tech companies will be sensor-heavy – looking at the circuitry diagram, there are several sensors included such as gyros, a barometer, compass, ultrasonic, temperature, light and ultraviolet sensors – that’s in addition to the camera.
This is Samsung’s fifth drone related patent in 2018 alone – and is also significant because as of April 2018, Samsung overtook IBM as the holder of the most patents in the USA.