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Jul 24

Auto-Follow Sports Drone Flies With Stratasys 3D Printing

Extreme sports enthusiasts will never miss a flip, turn, or jump again with the new AirDog and AirLeash products from Helico Aerospace Industries, based in Latvia. The AirDog is a programmable “quadcopter” drone that works with the AirLeash (a remote tracker worn on the wrist) to follow you while you are surfing, snowboarding, or biking. A camera mounted on the AirDog captures the action, wherever it goes, from above.

But it gets even more amazing. The working prototype, currently flying in demonstrations over the United States, was produced using 3D printing technologies from Stratasys, with guidance from Stratasys’ Latvian partner, Baltic3D, and Polish reseller Bibus Menos.

The AirDog – the world’s first automated drone designed to video outdoor sports and activities – has been entirely 3D printed using Stratasys FDM 3D printing technology

Via the AirLeash wrist-worn tracking device, created using PolyJet-based 3D printing from Stratasys, users can capture live aerial video footage of themselves

As explained by Edgars Rozentals, Co-founder and CEO of Helico, the AirDog not only grants end-users their own affordable and personal aerial video crew, but goes one step further in providing thrilling footage from distances and angles previously inaccessible to such consumers, and is the world's first auto-follow action sports drone to do so.
ULTEM 9085, a production-grade thermoplastic  popular in the aerospace industry for its high strength-to-weight ratio, was used to create the AirDog quadcopter. According to Rozentals, the ULTEM material was best suited for creating a functional AirDog Prototype:
“We were particularly impressed by how far we could push the boundaries of the ULTEM material. The material’s functional stability enabled us to 3D print very thin walls that further reduced AirDog’s overall weight.”

For the AirLeash, Helico chose to use rubber-like as well as rigid materials in a single prototype, relying on Stratasys’ PolyJet 3D printing technology, which allows for the incorporation of multiple materials in a single go. For Rozentals, 3D Printing was crucial for the development of the AirDog:
“I’m not sure how we would have arrived at the stage of having a functional part, were it not for Stratasys 3D printing technology. I founded the company two years ago and we’re a staff of three, so for start-ups like Helico, this technology isn’t just a game-changer, but the ticket to the game itself.”

- Stratasys Staff

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