Most commercially available Drones and UAVs often come with an accompanying carry case or backpack. These are for easy transportation and storage but the result can still be fairly bulky. In addition, there is not much you can do to reduce their size either, despite the available storage options. That is the challenge that two Swiss-based researchers set out to solve when they set about creating the tiny foldable drone that can be assembled and launched in seconds. See the UAV in action in the video below.
Super Portability and Flight Launch
The prototype of this Quadrotor Drone, inspired by the folding physics of Origami, was shown to UAV specialists at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Seattle in May. The tiny drone was developed by teams at EPFL and NCCR Robotics.
With arms that fold and wrap around the UAV, the quadrotor features powerful rotors and extending arms. All these parts are ready for flight within seconds. When the folding drone is turned on, four rotors start up and its articulated arms extend for takeoff. The drone’s design and quick launch mean that the UAV can be used by first responders to disaster areas, situations where time is critical.
The folding drones’ concept may end up featuring on other UAVs as well to improve portability and storage. Built with fibreglass and light inelastic polyester arms, the UAV folds easily into a trapezoid shape.
Most notable is that the drone’s arms unfold autonomously because of the force created by the tiny unmanned airplanes’ spinning rotors. This is because the drone’s’ rotors turn in the same direction and make the arms open at two vertical folds in the opposite way. the upper section of the arms shifts horizontally to lock this part of the UAV into place. For a natural stiffness, all the parts are held in place by magnets.
Ground Breaking UAV Engineering
Quadrotor drones are made with two sets of rotors that lie diagonally across each other. Of these, 2 will spin in a clockwise direction while the other two turn anticlockwise. This is done to ensure the flight stability of the unmanned aircraft. With regards to the foldable quadrotor, this requires the UAV has to reverse the turning direction of the rotors.
The researchers solved this by creating a sensor that detects when the aircraft’s arms are locked in place. This allows the drone to change the direction in which the rotors are spinning, a task it completes in under half a second.
The technology is so ingenious it has already been patented by its creators.
The initial prototype of the UAV still requires folding by the pilot but that only takes a few seconds to do. The device’s designer, Stefano Mintchev, is already working toward making that process completely autonomous.
All in all, this tiny foldable drone is quite a clever creation. The UAV’s designs opens up a lot of possibilities in the drone industry. From portability to having access to a “swarm” of these drones, there is no limit to what you could do with it. Except carry payloads, that is!