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This is probably the fastest way to launch a drone

Launching a drone can take a lot of time and patience. After finding a nice spot, you turn it on and hope that it can get GPS lock as quickly as possible. A lot of things may go wrong which can ruin the drone experience.

For faster drone deployments, a couple of researchers from Caltech University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have figured a way to put a drone in the sky in a just matter of seconds. This insane contraption is called the SQUID, which is short for Streamlined Quick Unfolding Investigation Drone.


Unlike a typical drone design, the SQUID is shaped like a short missile that’s 27 cm long and it weighs 530 grams. It is launched from a modified pneumatic baseball pitching machine with speeds of about 35 mph (56 km/h).

Squid Drone

The drone has four spring-loaded arms with attached rotors that will start spinning in just 200ms after launch. It is reported that it takes less than a second to get to a stable and hovering position. The best part is that it can be launched even from a moving vehicle and they managed to do so on a pickup truck that’s travelling at 50 mph (about 80km/h).

At the moment, SQUID is just a prototype and it can be useful for emergency responders and the military where multiple surveillance drones can be deployed without stopping. According to The Verge, this isn’t the first ballistic launched drone ever made but earlier examples are using a fixed-wing design which is less manoeuvrable compared to a multi-rotor drone.

The makers of SQUID are looking at making larger prototypes of the drone and they are also exploring mission-specific variants for Mars and Titan.


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Alexander Wong