The prototype of the excavation drone (2020)

This is a prototype of the autonomous excavation drone that can return to the excavation start point after excavating the underground soil or ice sheet.




This equips both ends of the cylindrical body with drill blades that have different spiral directions, and controls the rotation direction while canceling the anti-torque.
Furthermore, it is possible to perform forward drilling or backward drilling and also sample return etc.

I’d like to utilize this excavation drone for polar ice sheet surveys, space explorations such as geological surveys of the surface of Mars, and ice sheet survey of Jupiter’s satellite Europa.

I applied for a patent in Japan.









Originally, it was the Jupiter satellite Europa ice-bottom ocean probe prototype that was produced last year. Though the previous prototype had a problem that neither the probe nor the drilling sample could be collected after the drilling, this excavation drone may be the solution.



This is an image of a space exploration mission using a drilling drone. First, launch a excavation drone from a lander on an ice celestial body. After excavating the ice layer, we will take a sample and return to the lander again.



This is an image of an ice celestial body that has a subsurface ocean, and the excavation drone collecting the seawater and returning.



And now, various drones operating in the air and underwater have appeared. However, there was no drone for excavation.
I described the main points of its invention below.


(1) Mount the motor A and drill blade A on one side of the cylindrical body, and the motor B and drill blade B on the opposite side. It has a shape with drill blades on both ends of the body. [Figure 1]

(1) 円筒状の本体の片側に、モータAとドリルブレードA、逆側にモータBとドリルブレードBを取付。本体の両端にドリルブレードが付いた形状となる。[図1]


(2) Each drill blade has a spindle shape, and in addition to drilling at the tip blade, drilling at the bottom blade is also possible by reverse rotation. [Figure 2]

(2) 各ドリルブレードは紡錘形をしており、先端部の刃での掘削に加え、逆回転で底部の刃でも掘削が可能である。[図2]


(3) The drill blade A and the drill blade B have opposite spiral directions. [Figure 3]
According to this specification, if the rotation direction of the motor B is reversed with respect to the motor A and the rotation directions of the drill blade A and the drill blade B are reversed, it is possible to excavate in one specific direction.

(3) ドリルブレードAとドリルブレードBは、刃の螺旋方向が逆である。[図3]


(4) The reason why the excavation described in the previous section has become possible is that the anti-torque generated by the excavation rotation is offset by reversing the rotation directions of the A and B drill blades. [Figure 4]
If this anti-torque is not offset, the body itself will rotate and excavation cannot be performed.

(4) 前項で述べた掘削が可能となったのは、AとBそれぞれのドリルブレードの回転方向を逆にして、掘削回転で生じる反トルクを相殺したからである。[図4]


(5) The rotation directions of the motors A and B are controlled by the microcomputer.
If the excavation direction and excavation time are specified in advance by the program, it is possible to return the main body to the original excavation start point after excavating an arbitrary distance. [Figure 5]

(5) AとBそれぞれモータの回転方向は、マイコンなどのコンピュータで制御する。


The advantages compared to the existing technologies are described below.

-Anti-torque can be offset by the action of the counter-rotating drill blade, so there is no need to fix the main body, and no columns or turrets are required compared to boring.

-The excavation drone alone allows unmanned drilling.

-By reversing the rotation direction of the motor, it is possible to excavate in the opposite direction and return autonomously.

-Since it is possible to return, sample return survey is possible.

-Compared to counter rotating drills, the structure of shaft and gear is simpler and the number of wear parts is smaller, which can reduce maintenance cost and failure risk.









The following are the photographs of the production process.