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.

Reference:
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.
PDF: http://rpg.ifi.uzh.ch/docs/RAL18_Falanga.pdf

Our research page on vision-based quadrotor navigation:
http://rpg.ifi.uzh.ch/research_mav.html

Affiliations:
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
http://rpg.ifi.uzh.ch/
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.
http://lis.epfl.ch

31 Comments

  1. Philip Dawes on December 11, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    A brilliant development. Well done!

  2. Thyalwaysseek on December 11, 2020 at 9:47 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 December 11, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    wow

  4. bebehas bebehas on December 11, 2020 at 9:50 pm

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

  5. Anhui Zhang on December 11, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Nature is the creator of the artifact

  6. Fury Gaming - Tamil on December 11, 2020 at 9:51 pm

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

  7. Haijie Zhang on December 11, 2020 at 9:53 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

  8. Derek Rowe on December 11, 2020 at 9:55 pm

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

  9. Carlosloes on December 11, 2020 at 9:56 pm

    Amazing stuff

  10. Dan Carrier on December 11, 2020 at 9:58 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?

  11. Burhan Sancaklı on December 11, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    0:48 OH SHIT

  12. Bidyut Bhuyan on December 11, 2020 at 10:01 pm

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

  13. dzitiatri on December 11, 2020 at 10:04 pm

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

  14. RoboTekno on December 11, 2020 at 10:07 pm

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

  15. Kombizz on December 11, 2020 at 10:07 pm

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

  16. Surf Shop on December 11, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    DJI is watching

  17. Kutay ÖZKESKİN on December 11, 2020 at 10:09 pm

    Great work !!

  18. Unknowen Privatarium on December 11, 2020 at 10:09 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 !!!!

  19. Bouxesas on December 11, 2020 at 10:12 pm

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

  20. Oleksandr Zubchenko on December 11, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Very impressive. Way to go, guys!

  21. Wiz ThePurge on December 11, 2020 at 10:20 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!

  22. Jesus Gil on December 11, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    Like si vienes de un poco de todo

  23. RC Passionate on December 11, 2020 at 10:29 pm

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

  24. Jeremy Cook DIY on December 11, 2020 at 10:29 pm

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

  25. Jayesh Vaishnav on December 11, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    You sand me code

  26. BlazingTonk on December 11, 2020 at 10:34 pm

    Sold!!!

  27. le_ti_lik fpv on December 11, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    Don’t need that. Just fly FPV.

  28. Li Chen on December 11, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Mind blowing, excellent

  29. Abdul Hakim Abdul Rahim on December 11, 2020 at 10:44 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?

  30. TheCaSeVi on December 11, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    0:47 nazi drone

  31. TheRyma52 on December 11, 2020 at 10:45 pm

    When will drones go on sale with this function?

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