Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Technology

Foldable Drone Fits in Your Pocket

Drone360By Carl EngelkingMay 20, 2015 12:57 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

dnews-files-2015-05-folding-drone-150518-670-jpg.jpg

But does it fit in your pocket? This simple question is an oft-used standard to determine the utility of our high-tech devices. What good is a cell phone that doesn’t fit in your pocket? Now, it appears, drones are yet another class of gadget that has achieved the coveted pocket-sized standard of excellence. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology created a minuscule folding quadcopter that can outstretch its arms and get airborne within one second. The entire thing, when folded, fits neatly into the palm of your hand, making it easy to transport and deploy regardless of the situation.

Folding Flyer

Researchers designed their drone by borrowing a page from origami, which is a hot trend in robotics right now. When folded up, the prop arms form a trapezoid around the drone’s central core. The arms are built with a 0.3-millimeter layer of fiberglass and polyester. Each arm features two vertical folds allowing them to wrap around the core, as well as a horizontal fold to provide stability during flight.

When it’s time for take off, momentum from the drone’s propellers snap the arms out into a traditional quadcopter arrangement, and magnets help keep them locked in place. Here’s the only drawback: You have to manually refold the drone’s arms once its mission is accomplished. Researchers are working on an automated folding mechanism. The foldable design makes it possible to fit a swarm of these drones into a backpack, which is perfect for first responders attempting to get a quick aerial assessment of damage or search for survivors at the scene of a disaster. Miniature drones like these could someday be standard items on an emergency worker’s tool belt. Top image by Alain Herzog

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In