Dronut X1 drone designed for GPS-denied environments

Patented thrust vectoring technology enables the Dronut X1’s ducted fan design to remain stable in flight. | Credit: Cleo Robotics

We profiled Cleo Robotics, and its innovate drone technology, back in 2019. Now the Boston-based startup and MassRobotics resident, is commercially shipping its Dronut X1 drone ($9,800) that is designed for law-enforcement, industrial inspection, construction and defense applications.

The key to the drone is Cleo’s patented thrust vectoring technology that enables the ducted fan design to remain stable during flight. To overcome efficiency problems, the drone uses counter-rotating propellers that are on top of each other surrounded by an enclosure. And because the propellers are enclosed, Cleo claims this enables the drone to safely bounce off objects and people.

The Dronut X1 is designed to be used for unmanned inspection of GPS-denied environments such as tanks, pressure vessels, crawl spaces and more. It can also be used, Cleo said, by law enforcement involved in high-risk situations or as a flying surveillance camera for facility security.

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon, the Dronut X1 uses LiDAR for obstacle detection and a sensor suite for image and data collection with HD video/pictures and 3D point cloud output. Cleo said the latency on gathering video data is under 90 milliseconds.

The Dronut X1’s shell is made out of carbon fiber, and the drone weighs 15 oz and measures 5.5 inches in diameter. It has a flight time of just 12 minutes, however, and it takes 40 minutes to recharge the battery.

“Built to solve what had been thought of as unsolvable technical challenges with ducted fan aerial vehicles, we developed and tested the Dronut platform through rigorous and innovative engineering. We are excited to see the impact that the Dronut X1 will have on the industries that it is designed to serve,” said Omar Eleryan, founder and CEO, Cleo Robotics. “Having worked in the oil industry, I experienced the dangers and costs associated with confined space inspections.”

Eleryan and Simon Czarnota founded Cleo Robotics in 2016. The company started out in Calgary and spent a short amount of time in Silicon Valley before settling down at MassRobotics in Boston in May 2019.

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