Researchers at the University of Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a drone with adaptive morphology capabilities allowing it to fold mid-flight and change its shape to suit a specific task or environment.
Designing adaptive morphology into a drone poses a number of challenges, mainly increased complexity in the drone design and a decreased ability to control the drone. The researchers developed the drone specifically to address these challenges with the use of four independently rotating arms that can fold around the main frame of the drone.
The design allows the drone to change its shape to fly through small spaces, fly closer to objects for a better view and also grasp and transport objects.
The researchers say the manoeuvres demonstrated in the video are performed autonomously with the drone relying solely on its onboard visual-inertial sensors and computers.
The team hope to continue to improve the design of the drone to increase its ability to change shape. At the same time, the team is looking to develop more sophisticated programs that make the drone fully autonomous.
You can find out more about the project here.