Video: Dart-shooting drone deploys sensor to inaccessible locations

03 November 2020

Researchers from the Imperial College London have created a new deployment method for sensors that uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to launch sensors into hazardous environments or inaccessible locations.

The drones shoot the sensors like darts to a target location that can be safely approached by a UAV, such as under the forest canopy or up high in a tall tree or an industrial pipeline or oil rig. Typically, these types of sensors would need to be delivered by a human putting the person in threat of injury.

Researchers said the drone-sensor system opens new opportunities for industrial and scientific uses. With the system, no physical interaction is needed, and the method is based on mechanical energy storage and ultralight shape memory alloy trigger.

The sensor system weighs a total of 650 g and can deploy 17 sensors on a single battery charge. The sensors weigh 30 g and can be deployed up to 4 m from a target with an accuracy of about 10 cm.

Imperial College London said the system has been tested with more than 80 successful deployments in both indoor and outdoor environments. The system could be integrated into field operations for data acquisition and could complement other robotic and manual sensor placement procedures. This could benefit markets such as industrial uses, scientific field work, smart cities and hazardous environments.

The full research can be found in the journal IEEE Xplore.

To contact the author of this article, email

Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 0 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the Engineering360
Stay up to date on:
Features the top stories, latest news, charts, insights and more on the end-to-end electronics value chain.
Weekly Newsletter
Get news, research, and analysis
on the Electronics industry in your
inbox every week - for FREE
Sign up for our FREE eNewsletter