8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

Drones are everywhere these days. They can fly, swim, and even transform into different shapes. They can deliver packages, be used to spy, pick fruits, and even explore the ocean depths. Some of them are downright creepy. Others are a bit bizarre. Then there are those that are, well, kind of amazing. Here are 8 drones that caught our attention in 2023, and here’s why.

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Looking back at 2023: 8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

Chinese amphibious drone (Ben Chen) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

This Chinese drone got lots of attention this year as it looks like something straight from a Hollywood action movie. It is an amphibious drone that can swim underwater, shoot into the sky, and act as a quadcopter. Although its capabilities look pretty cool, in the wrong hands, this device could be dispatched on some dastardly missions.

The TJ-FlyingFish can swim and fly without human control using artificial intelligence only. It weighs 3.6 pounds, can hover for 6 minutes, and swims at 6.5 feet per second. It can be used for surveys, remote sensing, and rescue missions. The drone was developed by a team of scientists from China’s Shanghai Research Institute for Intelligent Autonomous Systems, Tongji University, and the Unmanned Systems Research Group at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. 

Watch it move

Looking back at 2023: 8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

Drone prototype that can change structure (University of Tokyo) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Graduate students at the University of Tokyo have created a group of futuristic-looking drone prototypes that can change their structural shape midair. The drone continually changes its structural shape while in motion. The students were inspired by the idea of a dragon flying through the air, as we’ve seen in movies like “Game of Thrones,” and how they can twist and turn their bodies as they fly. This could be a game changer if the drones were to be used by companies or the military for moving and transporting things.

Watch it fly

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Looking back at 2023: 8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

Autonomous delivery drone (Zipline) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Zipline, an autonomous delivery company, has developed a new device called the P2 Zip that can deliver packages faster and more efficiently using eVTOL drones. The P2 Zip system can carry up to 8 pounds of cargo and drop it off using a tethered droid. The device can be used for delivering medical supplies, food, and other items to remote areas or customers’ homes. The company has two platforms — one for precise home delivery and another for long-range delivery.

Zipline started delivering blood and medical products in 2016 and has since expanded to food, retail, agriculture products, and animal health products. To date, the company says it has delivered to thousands of homes, hospitals, and businesses in the US, Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Japan.

Watch how it works

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Looking back at 2023: 8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

Couple uses drone delivery service (Wing) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Drone delivery is the way of the future, revolutionizing the speed and convenience of getting products and food right to your doorstep. Just ask Paul and Susie Sensmeier, who’ve already used it for some time now. They are early adopters of Wing’s drone delivery service. The married couple from Virginia are in their 80s and have been using the drone delivery service since 2019. Now, it’s the only way they want to shop.

Wing’s drone delivery service currently operates in select parts of the U.S., Europe, and Australia. It delivers small packages in minutes and is a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. The company was founded in 2012 and has made over 300,000 commercial drone deliveries worldwide, not including the numerous test deliveries it is continuing to make in other areas.

Watch how quickly their food gets to them

Looking back at 2023: 8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

RDSX Pelican delivery drone (A2Z Drone Delivery) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Meet the RDSX Pelican, a delivery drone designed by A2Z Drone Delivery. Unlike other drones that use control surfaces to maintain stability, the RDSX Pelican uses a multi-rotor system to balance itself. In other words, instead of relying on traditional methods, it uses more advanced technology to stay steady while making deliveries. It’s the first commercial drone of its kind, making it an exciting innovation in the world of drone delivery.

It also has a pre-installed winch, known as RDS2, which has a mechanism to auto-release any box. This allows for cargo to be released from a tethered position at altitude without requiring a landing. One of the key benefits of this setup is that it safeguards the propellers against potential obstructions on the ground, such as trees, power lines, or buildings. Also, its patent-pending hook design can automatically retract after drop-off or pickup, which means a human doesn’t have to be on the receiving end of the drone delivery. 

Watch how it works

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Looking back at 2023: 8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

Bird drones (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

In a groundbreaking project published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a group of scientists explain how they managed to turn dead birds into drones that can potentially spy on people. The idea of bird drones has been floating around for a while, although this new development breathes a whole new life — quite literally — into the concept.

The researchers’ method involves carefully attaching lightweight electronic components to the preserved carcasses of birds. These components include miniature cameras, microphones, and other essential gadgets that enable the “bird drone” to perform surveillance tasks. The end result is a drone that looks and moves almost like a real bird, making it difficult to detect. The taxidermy-like drone birds are called “ornithopters” and are designed to fly just like birds by flapping their wings and are powered by mechanical propellers.

Watch how it works

Looking back at 2023: 8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

Fruit-picking robot (Tevel Aerobotics Technologies) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Developed by the Israeli start-up Tevel Aerobotics Technologies, these bots hover next to fruit trees, effortlessly pick the ripest fruits with suction arms, and carefully deposit them in a collection bin. Like diligent honeybees, they’re tethered to a platform that provides continuous power, enabling them to work day and night. Outfitted with cameras, they precisely assess each fruit’s size and color, ensuring they only pick the perfectly ripe specimens. They work smart and not just hard, providing farmers with real-time updates on the harvesting progress, estimated time to completion, quantity picked, and costs.

Watch this drone at work

Looking back at 2023: 8 drones that surprised, scared and amazed us

FiFish E-GO underwater robot (Qysea) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

You’ve seen drones that can fly but how about a drone that can explore under the ocean? This new powerful underwater robot uses AI to dive into the depths of the sea. It’s called FiFish E-GO, and thanks to its unique modular design, the innovative drone is easily customizable and upgradeable. So, whether you are a professional, a hobbyist or an adventurer, the E-GO has got you covered.

Watch it work

Kurt’s key takeaways

As you can see, drones are not just toys or gadgets. They are powerful tools that can change the way we live, work, and play. They can also pose new challenges and risks, such as privacy, security, and safety. That’s why we need to be aware of the latest developments and innovations in drone technology, and how they can affect us and our society.

Which one is your favorite or feared drone and why? Let us know in the comments below. Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.

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