With the spread of intelligent robotic agents, numerous robotic platforms have been developed and disseminated in an open-source manner to allow replication by others in robotics education and research , . Even though considerable progress has already been made in the field, most of the related work has focused on ground-based, stationary, or humanlike robotic devices , –. While they are certainly a reasonable choice in many educational and research scenarios, such robots are often heavy, expensive, hard to replicate, or have limited mobility.
Such limitations can be overcome by indoor aerial platforms, which have in the recent years received a lot of attention. The most popular choice of such systems are quadrotors that have been developed as fully autonomous indoor, aerial robotic platforms –. Other studies have focused on indoor robotic airships. Skye  is a spherical omnidirectional blimp actuated by 4 rotors and equipped with a high resolution camera unit. It was intended for entertainment and interaction in large indoor and outdoor venues as the platform itself is quite large, with a diameter of 2.7 m. Another entertainment-oriented indoor airship platform is the Blimpduino , which features an Arduino-based control board that allows communication and basic control through a mobile app. The blimpduino came at a very affordable price of 90 USD, although it is not available for purchase anymore at the time of writing. A notable example of an autonomous indoor blimp is also the GT-MAB , one of the smallest autonomous indoor LTA platforms designed for human-robot interaction and autonomy studies. In , the GT-MAB was demonstrated in a human following and gesture recognition scheme, paving the road for flying airship companions.
Some research has also focused on human interaction with rotorcraft, where work was mainly based on one-directional communication through gesture recognition. In , the authors presented an agent capable of full-pose person tracking and accepting simple gestural commands. Authors of  expanded this concept by developing a gesture-based interface for communicating with teams of quadrotors. In , the authors reversed the information flow and examined the communication of UAV intent to a human user through motion. Regarding rotorcraft, only the visual mode of interaction was considered in human robot interaction research because these platforms are generally too loud for auditory communication and too dangerous for tactile communication. LTA vehicles, on the other hand, can be silent and harmless to the user, provided that an appropriate lifting gas is chosen.
The miniaturisation and democratisation of electronic components (access to sophisticated technology has become more accessible to more people) has allowed for progressively smaller and more low-cost designs of indoor airships, which have since become relevant for both robotics education and research. Initial studies have focused mainly on airship control and navigation, utilising the aerodynamic envelope shapes of their larger, outdoor airship counterparts. In , the authors presented an early indoor blimp system and studied visual servoing techniques. In , a dynamic airship model was developed and successfully applied in an indoor testing environment. Other examples that make use of the classic blimp envelope shapes include developments in blimp autonomy and navigation as described in , . But all these studies have not focused on the feasibility of the robotic airship platforms, have not examined the permeability and applicability of different materials, the yearly helium losses, and the projected costs and none of these studies has proposed an open-source, platform that can be used for both robotics education and research.
 S. S. Srinivasa, P. Lancaster, J. Michalove, M. Schmittle,...
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