Unusual: this drone manages to fly by turning on itself

Do you know what a flexible robot or soft robot is? This is a new kind of robot that is generally inspired by the plant or animal world. In fact, researchers from the University of Technology and Design of Singapore are currently working on a “flexible drone”.

In a paper published on 1 st November in the Bioinspiration & Biomimetics journal, these researchers presented an atypical drone called “F-SAM”. This drone is indeed inspired by samaras, the seeds of the maple tree, to fly. Indeed, the seeds of samaras spin around in order to take advantage of the wind to disperse. And this drone does the same.

This drone could have several uses in the field

Concretely, the F-SAM pivots on itself with the battery and the electronic circuits in its center. The rotor sits on the tip of the single wing and spins around the rest of the drone. The motor is oriented horizontally and accelerates the rotation to increase the altitude of the drone. As a result, the operator can steer the device with small pulses when the rotor is in alignment with the desired direction.

If ever the device breaks down, it can land without damage on the ground by copying the technique of samaras. Note that the F-SAM drone weighs barely 69 grams and the battery takes up 40% of this weight. This robot is both light and rigid, which improves the stability of the drone. According to the researchers, this drone could be used for climate monitoring using a weather sensor or to carry out 3D scans of the terrain using LIDAR technology.