Dronut X1

Cleo Dronut X1 Bi-Rotor Drone: The Drone Without Visible Propellers

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

We are used to drones with at least 4 propellers, or 1 when talking about RC helicopters. But Cleo Robotics have taken the world by storm with a drone that doesn’t seem to have propellers, the Dronut X1.

The Dronut X1 is a donut-inspired drone perfect for confined spaces and environments where GPS can’t be used. 

Cleo Robotics developed the Dronut X1, a drone without external propellers. Instead, this drone has its propellers built within its chassis. Also, the Dronut X1 has cut-out vents to allow displaced air to escape. 

The Dronut X1 design had police and military applications in mind, weighs 15-ounces, has a 4K onboard camera, a 1KM range, and streaming capabilities.

Additionally, the drone navigates its environment using 3D light detection and ranging (LiDAR).

This aspect of the drone uses beams of light that hit a surface or object reflecting the drone’s laser scanner. A 3D visualization of its environment is then created. 

Dronut X1 in hands.
Dronut X1

Let’s look at an in-depth analysis of the Dronut X1:

The Key Features of the Dronut X1:

  • Brilliant and smallest in its class: Because it has no propellers, its compact design fits your hands, and the drone safely flies where other drones haven’t reached before. 
  • Intelligence and sense: The Dronut X1 has some of the best autonomous abilities in the market. The manufacturer ensures that you don’t sacrifice its powerful intelligence for safety and size.
  • Collision tolerant: You’ll never have to worry about piloting in tight spaces. Because this drone has no exposed propellers, it means it’s collision tolerant, safe to touch, and operates safely around sensitive equipment. 
  • LED lights: Has LiDAR and LED lights helping it navigate no light or low-light areas.
  • Intuitive controls: You can fully integrate Dronut’s controls using a minimalistic smartphone app.
  • NDAA compliance: The dronut is perfect for commercial and government use and is designed and manufactured in the US.
  • Inspections: Offers the best solution for unmanned inspections in confined and dangerous spaces. 

From Concept to Market Ready:

The Dronut X1 is a creation of Cleo Robotics, a drone company based in Boston, and it unveiled the concept for the first time in 2019. Since the initial introduction, the company has created the concept’s viable version.

The bi-rotor drone promises to deliver unparalleled maneuverability and performance in tight spaces. It’s the smallest in its class and is without a doubt more advanced. 

Cleo Robotics Logo
Cleo Robotics Logo


  • Lighting: Has LED lights for visual data collection, especially in poorly lit indoor environments.
  • Easy to fly: Features such as an onboard LiDAR sensor and Qualcomm Snapdragon help the drone navigate.
  • Sensor Payload: The drone comes with a global shutter camera, 3D LiDAR sensor, and 4K camera.
  • Collision tolerant: Flies in confined spaces where collisions are unavoidable without the likelihood of posing a danger to itself or the people around. 
  • GPS-denied: Can fly indoors where there’s no GPS.
  • Airframe: The airframe has rugged carbon fiber materials.
  • Speed: 13 ft/sec
  • Flight time: 12 minutes
  • Weight: 94 pounds/15 ounces
  • Size: 4” *6.5”

According to Omar Eleryan, The CEO and Founder of Cleo Robotics, the Dronut X1 is the first of its kind in the world that uses ducted-fan drone technology.

Dronut X1 performs like a quadcopter drone in its maneuverability. Accordingly, it exceeds quadcopter’s performance in its ability to bump into things, especially with its form factor and flight time. 

Use Cases of the Dronut X1:

Its compact and slick design notwithstanding, this drone is explicitly for inspections in industrial environments. 

One of its primary uses is to fly inside pressure vessels and boilers for visual data collection. Inspectors then analyze the visual data to identify defects that require maintenance. 

Without this drone, the inspectors would have to face the dangers of confined space entry to collect the data themselves.

They would also have to face the risks of using ropes or working at certain heights to reach all interior parts of the asset.

Cleo Robotics solves the problems of collisions by equipping the drone with LiDAR obstacle detectors and hiding its propellers. 

On the other hand, Flyability solves potential collision problems by adding shock tolerance to its design and having a cage around the drones. 

Here are some of the primary uses of the Dronut X1:

  • Insurance: Collects data for insurance-related assignments. FM Global, an insurance company, reportedly uses the Dronut X1.
  • Defense: Collects visual data in GPS-denied environments for ISR (reconnaissance), surveillance, and intelligence purposes. 
  • Security: Serves as a flying surveillance camera in facility security without the risk of causing harm to property, people, or itself. 
  • Law enforcement: Captures live visual data, especially in high-risk scenarios, such as scenes that involve active shooting, to help inform strategic decision-making.
  • Inspections: Collects visual data in confined spaces such as boilers, pressure vessels, and tanks.

Comparison Between the Flyability Gimbal Drone and the Dronut X1:

Just like the Dronut X1, the lightweight flyability gimbal drone resists collisions. The drone has a rotating cage that prevents damage to the drone when colliding with obstacles. 

Hence, the Flyability Gimbal Drone can fly safely close to humans, making it highly effective in rescue missions. 

The Flyability Gimbal Drone, just like the Dronut X1, has a carbon fiber cage that surrounds the entire aircraft. The cage has a three-axis rotation that allows it to bounce off obstacles. 

These aspects about the drone make it safe inside utility corridors, conducting dangerous assessments, crawl spaces, and ballast tanks.

The Flyability Gimbal Drone comes with a kit that includes all the necessary items for flight operations: tools and spare parts for routine maintenance, connectors, cables, two micro SD cards, two battery chargers, five batteries, a Samsung tablet preinstalled cockpit app, and a controller.

Flyability Gimbal Drone Specifications:

Flight duration: 8-10 minutes 

Type: Inspecting confined space

Size: 400mm 

Camera quality: Thermal FLIR Lepton and Visible HD video

We love this drone like the Dronut X1 because it keeps people away from dangerous environments, has proven components for reliability in performance, and has thermal and visible imaging in a single package. 

Flyability Gimbal Drone

The Difference Between Dronut X1 and a Bladeless Drone:

The technology behind this drone is that it uses propellers but doesn’t need blades for drone flights. Bladeless drones have an aerodynamic design similar to planes but with different bodies.

The main body of a bladeless drone has a large air duct that aids in descending and ascending. There are internal ducts that help with air utilization. Three smaller propellers generate downward flow in mid-air, keeping the drone afloat. 

Because there are no blades, the drone generates lesser noise. Therefore, hobbyists and commercial pilots need to consider this drone. The drone enhances the strategic ability to infiltrate a hostile territory in the military. 

On the other hand, the Dronut X1 looks like a gadget drawn from a sci-fi movie. This bio-rotor system drone goes for 360-degree safety from military applications to recreational purposes. Using foam and lightweight composite material, the drone has an impact-resistant body. 

The Dronut X1 offers worry-free dynamics. It’s a versatile machine designed to operate where even robots can’t dare. The advanced algorithms, sophisticated sensors, and high maneuverability allow high performance. 

How the Dronut X1 Works?

The Cleo Robotics solution, the Dronut X1, halves the rotors to two. Normally, these are placed above each other. Hence, the bio-rotor design creates opposing forces, making similar stability that requires four rotors. 

Most importantly, the compact design allows the complete enclosure of the rotors in what resembles a donut. Naturally, the drone had to have the name “Dronut.”

According to Cleo Robotic, the drone performs reconnaissance and inspections within GPS-denied / cramped environments. The drone is wi-fi controlled through an Android App and a joystick remote. 

That said, it autonomously holds its position and avoids obstacles with the help of the LiDAR sensor. The drone’s steering management uses a vectoring system (proprietary thrust). 

Additionally, the drone streams 1080p/30fps real-time videos, shooting and recording 4K footage, and the four LED lights provide illumination. A 40-minute charge of its lithium battery (removable) offers 12 minutes flight time. 

The drone’s shell is carbon fiber material, and it has a 5.5-inch diameter. It’s built to solve some of the ducted aerial vehicles’ unsolvable challenges. 

The new Dronut X1 is less noisy than the original version and available for market use. It weighs 425g, and it fits in your hand. Regardless of your needs, it’s a unique drone – in both function and looks. 

The Dronut X1 Dynamics:

Who knew that doing away with half the rotors would result in what seems like a safer and more stable drone?

A drone like the Dronut X1 is not immediately associated with warfare and the military. Thanks to the changing times, drones have become mainstream and familiar to people from all walks of life. 

Despite the different drone designs, almost all drones have a four-rotor system hence the name “quadcopter.” The quadcopter isn’t the only possible design, and the Dronut X1 sells the idea of having two propellers and not four. 

Up to date, four propellers are the most commonly accepted solution to creating movement and stability mid-air. And as many drone users would attest, these aren’t the easiest drones to control. Neither are they the safest. 

Even those with added protectors suffer serious setbacks when they bump into something or someone. 

Another aspect of the Dronut X1 is that the patented thrust vectoring technology allows the ducted fun design stability mid-air. 

To overcome its efficiency problems, the drone has counter-rotating propellers atop each other and is surrounded by an enclosure. Thus, this enables the drone to bounce off things and people. 

Credit: DBreach

Why Is the Dronut X1 Safer Without the Propellers?

Over the years, there have been many drone-related injuries. Pilots have had their fingers and heads sliced off by propellers while they tried to pick them up after they have landed. 

Not only is the Dronut X1 a better design, but it’s also safer for people around it and the drone itself. Drone enthusiasts spend lots of cash replacing propellers and other drone parts every year due to collisions. 

The advantage of the Dronut X1 is that it’s safer for professional drone pilots. While using the drone, you don’t need to be careful with drones with propellers.

Additionally, the Dronut X1 flies higher with lesser power and this, unfortunately, makes the drone noisier than the average drone. 

But in everything good, you have to make sacrifices.

Built Different, Flies Different:

The new innovative design by Cleo Robotics has more stability than the usual standard four rotors. The best part is that there’s no training required, and you can efficiently operate it using a cellphone or gamepad. 

Additionally, the drone comes coded for autonomous flying. Accordingly, the drone is brilliant thanks to its sensors and Qualcomm Snapdragon system. Thus, Cleo Robotics assures us that the drone comes to save money, time, and lives. 

The drone takes unmanned flights into the unknown. 

Limitations of the Dronut X1:

One of the limitations of the Dronut X1 is the short battery life of 12 minutes. That is a significant downside given its high price. 

Even though this drone is much safer for people to fly, both for regular hobbyists and professionals, there are a few drawbacks to having the drone use the impeller method.

As mentioned earlier, the energy emitted to provide enough airflow means that the drone has shorter flight times. We assume that the drone got off the ground in the first place.

That is why there are not many of its kind in the market. 

Power: The amount of energy needed to get the drone off the ground is enormous and requires larger batteries to run longer.

Noise: The drone has more noise. Think of a leaf blower or a hairdryer. You get the idea, right?


Can Drone Fly Without Propellers?

There are drones without propellers. The Impeller Drone uses impellers or centrifugal fans in place of axial fans. 

Drone propellers are available in different sizes and shapes. Even though they serve the same overall purpose, they each have other flight characteristics. 

Do Drones Have Propellers?

Propellers are one of the critical elements of a drone. They are the wings to the craft. Furthermore, they create the airflow that lifts the drone into the air.

All drones need propellers to take flight. Most drones these days have four propellers; hence they are classified as “quadcopters.”

Are There Drones Without Propellers?

Drones without visible propellers exist – the Dronut X1 is an example. The Dronux X1 has its propellers built within its chassis.

The “Impeller Drone” uses impellers or centrifugal fans rather than axial fans. Axial fans are the same as those found in leaf blowers and pull air out from the back and sides. 

Is Bladeless Drone Possible?

Yes, a bladeless drone is possible. And while developing a bladeless drone comes with its fair share of challenges, compared to the quadcopter, these drones come with a completely different propulsion system. 

The bladeless drone accelerates air through blades and internal duct

Why Do Drones Need Propellers?

One of the critical parts of a drone is its propellers. The spinning blades are the craft’s wings, and they create the airflow which lifts the machine into the air. 

Quadcopters use propeller direction and motor design for propulsion. The propellers control the force of gravity against the drone. Also, the propeller blades push air downwards.

What is a Single Rotor Drone?

Construction professionals and surveyors use the single rotor drone. It is primarily used in lifting heavy payloads of up to 40kgs because of its efficiency. It uses less fuel or battery life as it flies and is faster than multi-rotor drones. 

The flight of single rotor drones is similar to that of helicopters. The drone’s power uses a gas motor for extended endurance. Single rotor drones are highly efficient with slower and longer spinning blades.

How Do Propellers Work on a Drone?

The drone’s propellers provide the drone with a lift. They spin and create airflow. It results in the pressure differences between the above and beneath propeller surfaces.

The propeller speeds vary, allowing descending, ascending, and affecting its roll, pitch, and yaw. 

Why Do Military Drones Use Propellers?

Propellers offer more efficiency at slow speeds. The propellers add more cram lift in their prop space. Propellers have more efficiency in low airspeeds and low altitudes hence their use in military drones. 

The propellers in military drones suit the specific application and mission. 

Can a Drone Fly With One Propeller?

There is a drone designed to fly using one propeller. The Monospinner achieves controlled flight with only one propeller. The single propeller drones hover vertically in the air.

However, drones with multiple propellers have an easier time taking off and landing.

Final Thoughts:

You love flying them despite the danger if you’re a drone enthusiast. It’s crucial as enthusiasts to put the safety of those around you above the enjoyment you get out of flying drones.

Hence, the Dronut X1 offers you more safety while operating it than other drones in the market. The drone is a huge success and a giant step in the right direction for the droning community. It leads to more drones of its kind or even better versions in the future.

Cheers to a more fantastic droning future ahead!


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Dronut X1
USD 9800
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