The Foldable Drone: A Morphing Quadrotor that can Squeeze and Fly

(This video is narrated). The recent advances in state estimation, perception, and navigation algorithms have significantly contributed to the ubiquitous use of quadrotors for inspection, mapping, and aerial imaging. To further increase the versatility of quadrotors, recent works investigated the use of an adaptive morphology, which consists of modifying the shape of the vehicle during flight to suit a specific task or environment. However, these works either increase the complexity of the platform or decrease its controllability. In this work, we propose a novel, simpler, yet effective morphing design for quadrotors consisting of a frame with four independently rotating arms that fold around the main frame. To guarantee stable flight at all times, we exploit an optimal control strategy that adapts on the fly to the drone morphology. We demonstrate the versatility of the proposed adaptive morphology in different tasks, such as negotiation of narrow gaps, close inspection of vertical surfaces, and object grasping and transportation. The experiments are performed on an actual, fully autonomous quadrotor relying solely on onboard visual-inertial sensors and compute. No external motion tracking systems and computers are used. This is the first work showing stable flight without requiring any symmetry of the morphology.

D. Falanga, K. Kleber, S. Mintchev, D. Floreano, D. Scaramuzza, “The Foldable Drone: A Morphing Quadrotor that can Squeeze and Fly”. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L), 2018.

Our research page on vision-based quadrotor navigation:

D. Falanga, K. Kleber and D. Scaramuzza are with the Robotics and Perception Group, Dep. of Informatics, University of Zurich, and Dep. of Neuroinformatics, University of Zurich and ETH Zurich, Switzerland
S. Mintchev and D. Floreano are with the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, Institute of Microengineering, School of Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland.


  1. Haijie Zhang on February 23, 2021 at 11:22 pm

    Their paper details the reason why they want the drone to morph instead of always using a smaller sized drone. For longer battery life and different angular velocity it can produce

  2. Thyalwaysseek on February 23, 2021 at 11:23 pm

    Why not just use a smaller drone? When has advanced tech ever been used for search and rescue? Let’s be honest, the applications for new tech is always in weaponry.

  3. Stefan Kellenberger on February 23, 2021 at 11:24 pm


  4. dzitiatri on February 23, 2021 at 11:28 pm

    Really nice to see such and idea. As grapping as item is really looking easy and no additional weight needed for arms

  5. Wiz ThePurge on February 23, 2021 at 11:29 pm

    For all those who ask why not just make the drone smaller, yu need to learn about aerodynamic property and aerodynamic interference, inertia and mass contrl. Or just read the academic paper in the description of the video!

  6. Abdul Hakim Abdul Rahim on February 23, 2021 at 11:32 pm

    Eh? Why not just make a small drone that can go into any holes rather than a bigger one that can morph into a smaller one? Isn’t this unnecessary?

  7. Samet Cakırlı on February 23, 2021 at 11:33 pm

    Awesome , greetings from Turkey

  8. RoboTekno on February 23, 2021 at 11:33 pm

    Why not just keep the drone in ‘small’ mode and remove the weight of the servos?

  9. Bidyut Bhuyan on February 23, 2021 at 11:33 pm

    Useless shit…..will get shot down in a war zone within seconds while the drone is yawning leisurely 😁. Only good for time pass.

  10. bebehas bebehas on February 23, 2021 at 11:34 pm

    mm, this is the next step. Now make it waterproof and let it dive and swim.

  11. BlazingTonk on February 23, 2021 at 11:34 pm


  12. Emre Karacan on February 23, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    Great work! It seems that nature helps us to make impressive designs

  13. Kutay ÖZKESKİN on February 23, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    Great work !!

  14. Oleksandr Zubchenko on February 23, 2021 at 11:40 pm

    Very impressive. Way to go, guys!

  15. Surf Shop on February 23, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    DJI is watching

  16. Jesus Gil on February 23, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    Like si vienes de un poco de todo

  17. Li Chen on February 23, 2021 at 11:43 pm

    Mind blowing, excellent

  18. Derek Rowe on February 23, 2021 at 11:44 pm

    How is flight time affected by the added weight of the additional components ?

  19. Anhui Zhang on February 23, 2021 at 11:47 pm

    Nature is the creator of the artifact

  20. Dan Carrier on February 23, 2021 at 11:48 pm

    Very cool, is there any advantage to the drone being at any configuration other than it’s smallest? Isn’t your efficientcy largely determined by the disk space of the props and the weight of the vehicle?

  21. David Hannigan Jr. on February 23, 2021 at 11:51 pm

    Where can I get the frame?!?! And it’s associated Hardware. I’ll take care of all the electronics and everything that makes a kwad fly. And, so long as they’re not proprietary or custom-made servos, I’ll take care of those too. Just tell me where I can buy the frame.

  22. RC Passionate on February 23, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    How about.. building an small drone with same equipment and same foldable design..🤔

  23. NJSP Flight Nurse Practitioner on February 23, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Interesting morphology and algorithms that may also be used for commercial purposes, such as changing the wing flight characteristics in flight to deal with emergencies such as OEI (one engine inoperative), especially in turboprops, where the loss of an engine produces potential stall of the opposite wing and undesirable pitch, roll and yaw axis changes? Pilots, feel free to chime in on this idea !!!!

  24. TheCaSeVi on February 24, 2021 at 12:03 am

    0:47 nazi drone

  25. Bouxesas on February 24, 2021 at 12:05 am

    Ok, but why morphing and not having the smallest size all the time?

  26. Carlosloes on February 24, 2021 at 12:09 am

    Amazing stuff

  27. Jayesh Vaishnav on February 24, 2021 at 12:12 am

    You sand me code

  28. Burhan Sancaklı on February 24, 2021 at 12:12 am

    0:48 OH SHIT

  29. TheRyma52 on February 24, 2021 at 12:13 am

    When will drones go on sale with this function?

  30. le_ti_lik fpv on February 24, 2021 at 12:14 am

    Don’t need that. Just fly FPV.

  31. Fury Gaming - Tamil on February 24, 2021 at 12:15 am

    Foldable drone project is going I need sum help for you how to contact you

  32. Jeremy Cook on February 24, 2021 at 12:17 am

    Amazing. Making it smaller is interesting, but being able to optimize flight characteristics on the fly really takes things up a level.

  33. Kombizz on February 24, 2021 at 12:17 am

    I guess in order to make it’s size, the drone should see the size of hole before hand.

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