The world's skyscrapers are getting old. That's a problem, because their size and shape make it difficult to inspect them for structural damage. It's also a major problem during fires.
But South Korean researchers believe they have an answer in a drone that can stick to walls. It's called CAROS, or 'Climbing Aerial RObot System', and looks rather like a traditional quadcopter - with four rotors.
The difference becomes apparent, however, when it comes up against a wall. It uses a set of autonomous navigation algorithms, combined with laser-scan data gathered from a collection of sensors, to adjust its path to 'land' on the surface. Its rotors keep it gripped in place with the necessary force.
That technology has been around for a while, but now the team has created a fireproof version. It's called FAROS, short for "Fireproof Aerial RObot System", and is covered with aramid fiber to protect its internal components from flames. It also has an internal cooling system.
Alongside the standard CAROS sensor load-out, FAROS has been given a thermal imaging camera that can detect and localize where a fire is most dangerous. During tests it was able to survive 1000C heat for more than a minute.
Hyun Myung, who helped develop the drone, said: "As cities become more crowded with skyscrapers and super structures, fire incidents in these high-rise buildings are massive life-threatening disasters."
"FAROS can be aptly deployed to the disaster site at an early stage of such incidents to minimize the damage and maximize the safety and efficiency of rescue mission."
Details of the drone were presented at the International Conference on Control, Automation and Systems, held in Busan, Korea.