A drone with a camera can be bought in any toy store. Many of them have a built-in microphone and some of them can even pick up odours. But actually taking immediate action on the basis of what it makes visible, audible or smelling, that was quite difficult until now. Saxion University of Applied Sciences wants to change this with a subsidy of €1 million which the school has received for their contribution to the MARS4Earth project.

The project’s desired result: “the development of the world’s first autonomous and modular flying drone with a robotic arm that can physically interact with the outside environment”. The application areas the project focuses on are ‘safety & security’, ‘inspection & maintenance’ and ‘agriculture’. According to Saxion, new drone technology can contribute to safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness in areas such as firefighting, the maintenance of offshore wind turbines or the selective treatment of precision agriculture.

Saxion is now asking the business community to think along about the possible applications of the robotic drone “in order to spend the subsidy money as wisely as possible”. A workshop on 25 November in the new lab of the Mechatronics lectorate in Enschede is the best way the school expects to achieve this. Anybody can join through an application on the Saxion website. In addition to the workshop, visitors will see a number of demonstrations of drone technologies and there will be a guided tour of the Mechatronics Lab.