This 'hands-on' drone looks straight out of a sci-fi nightmare

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Story highlights

  • Six-rotor, two-armed clawed drone released by Japanese UAV maker
  • Commercial drone has enough power to lift and transport a patio chair through the air

(CNN)Its makers insist that it has numerous, practical applications, but a new offering from Japanese commercial UAV maker Prodrone looks like something out of a dystopic sci-fi movie.

The six-rotor PD6B-AW-ARM drone is equipped with two robot arms, each ending in a mechanical claw that can grasp objects tightly enough to whisk them away through the skies.
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    And the promotional video, released ahead of the device's unveiling at InterDrone, an international UAV conference held earlier this month in Las Vegas, won't ease any irrational flying-crab-bot fears.
    The video shows the orange-and-black drone buzzing through the skies, claw-like grips clacking open and closed in anticipation as it sights its prey -- a metal patio chair. Latching onto the hapless furniture, it lifts it up, above a courtyard and a decorative fountain, and away to an unknown fate.
    The video also shows the drone using its mechanical talons to alight on a fence, where it perches, awaiting its next assignment.
    Finally, in an effort to show a more charitable side of the new technology, it demonstrates one of its practical uses, quickly buzzing a flotation device out to sea in a mock-rescue.
    Prodrone's new PD6B-AW-ARM commercial-use drone.

    Multi-purpose

    Despite looking ominous -- bringing to mind the human-hunting "squids" of the "Matrix" franchise and the humming probe droid of "Star Wars" fame -- its makers insist its applications will be entirely peaceful.
    A press release from the company suggests that it be used "to grasp and carry differently shaped cargo using its arms; to attach or join things; to cut cables; to turn dials; to flick switches; to drop lifesaving buoys; to retrieve hazardous materials." Its batteries allow for a 30-minute flight time.
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    Traditionally, drones have been used for mundane tasks like photography, mapping and pesticide spraying, as well as drone racing, drug smuggling, pizza and burrito delivery. They've also been used for search and rescue missions.
    The maker's CEO, Masakazu Kono, says that the company is "firmly focused on the future of commercial drones and on being world pioneers in developing 'task-oriented drones.'
    "The PD6B-AW-ARM makes a whole new range of tasks possible, and I am confident that nobody else could have made it."
    The arms are highly articulated, allowing five-axis positioning. And a reassuring stat for those concerned about aerial kidnapping attempts -- the robot arms' maximum payload is only around 10 kg (22 lbs).