Believe it or not, this is truly the pocket sized drone that you can take anywhere with you. It’s also a perfect gadget for those wannabe’ spies, as it can most certainly be classed as one of the ultimate spy gadgets currently on the market. Researchers in France have unveiled what can only be described as an ‘origami’ drone which can be folded up to save space, thus making it tiny enough to fit in any jacket pocket or backpack, respectively. To enable this miniscule drone into the air, the user simply needs to hold it out, before the drone suddenly springs into life as it unfurls its arms before launching itself into the air (which takes just a third of a second!).
Inspired by the Japanese art of origami, the foldable drone was originally fashioned by a team at NCCR and EPFL Robotics who were keen to comment on their new development, ‘The novelty of the robot is that it can fold or unfold its rotors in under half a second,’ Dario Floreano mentioned, who was responsible for leading the research. ‘You can carry many of these drones in your coat pocket or a backpack, and just let them go when you need them.‘
The compact origami drone was deputed and displayed on the 25th of May at the popular International Conference on Robotics and Automation situated in the city of Seattle. From the moment that this tiny drone is turned on, its rotors are suddenly engaged, the delicate articulated arms extend and away it goes.
The origami drone may help towards saving lives in the future.
This drone device has the ability to be quickly released, and with being so small it would be ideal to scout and scan over disaster zones in order to retrieve photographs of a situation and even establish a form of contact with people who are in need. It hasn’t been officially confirmed as to whether the origami drone will be handling situation as this, but it’s most certainly a possibility for the future, due to its unique technology.
The origami drone’s unique arms.
The arms of the drone, are fashioned from light inelastic polyester and fibreglass, and are able to effortlessly and quickly fold up into the shape that resembles a trapezoid. When the drone is not in use, the arms are able to wrap horizontally and securely around the body of the drone. ‘What makes this drone different from the rest is its ability for the arms to unfold by themselves: the force generated by the rotors causes the arms to move into place,’ said researchers. The tiny drone’s rotors are able to turn together in the same direction, which causes the arms to rotate outward in the opposite way, before opening around two vertical folds.
Once the drone’s arms are fully extended, both of their upper section begin to move horizontally which locks the segment open. Throughout this process, small magnets are in place in order to hold everything together. For a quadrotor such as this drone to maintain stability during flight, two rotors that are placed diagonally across from one another must turn in a clockwise motion, while the other two rotors spin anticlockwise. The drone must reverse the initial spinning direction of just two of the rotors before it takes off. This entire process happens automatically in under an incredible 50 milliseconds.
Straight from a sci-fi movie.
This incredibly quick-starting origami drone, while it may be simple in appearance, is made up of a number of well-thought-out parts. The overall stiffness of its arms, is fundamental to the quadrotor manoeuvrability. If these essential parts were made to be flexible, they would vibrate and bend during flight, causing the drone to become unstable, while also significantly reducing the quad rotor’s response time to commands that it receives. Stiff arms play a key role during the folding process, and allows the drone’s arms to spread out horizontally which means that the drone can avoid any form of imbalances that can be caused by the laws of gravity.
Due to the tiny drones structure, it means that there is no need for any form of additional reinforcing mechanism or system, which would subsequently add additional weight to the drone.
One of the primary advantages of this form of design is that it is entirely reversible.
The drones designer, Stefano Mintchev recently commented on the drone’s current performance, ‘This prototype is still required to be folded by hand, but it takes no more than just 10 seconds for an individual with practice to do it,’. Mr Mintchev, is already focusing on a newer version that will see the drone folds up on its own accord. Future efforts in terms of design, will be focused primarily on fine-tuning this fantastic little origami drone.