Prodrone PD6B-AW-ARM hexacopter gets grabby

Quad- and hexacopter drones have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years in applications ranging from toys to Hollywood productions. Japanese company Prodrone is all business, though. Going by its website, the company has built custom drones that can land on water, launch nets at other drones, and inspect infrastructure like bridges, among other tasks.

Prodrone has taken all that expertise and produced a rather frightening-looking new drone platform called the PD6B-AW-ARM. This hexacopter does away with the gimbal mount typical of many drones for a pair of custom-designed, five-axis robot arms. I'm sure having a pair of claws on an aerial platform is useful, but I'm also scared. Behold:

Prodrone suggests the PD6B-AW-ARM could perform jobs like deploying lifesaving equipment over water, cable-cutting, manipulating dials and switches, or other tasks well-suited to a pair of hand-like manipulators. The company's promotional video shows the drone picking up and carrying water jugs, chairs, and more. The PD6B's arms are rated to carry payloads as heavy as 22 lb (10 kg), and it can fly for up to 30 minutes using  pair of 16000-mAh batteries.

Prodrone's base PD6B-AW platform can operate in all weather conditions, and the company says it can tailor the basic chassis for video production and delivery duty, among others. The control system can also apparently be customized for the specific needs of the end user. Prodrone doesn't offer pricing info, but the amount of custom work and end-to-end support the company offers likely means that the average Joe isn't the target market for these products anyway. Now, excuse me while I try not to freak myself out by watching Prodrone's demo video again.

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