Newer drone models often share a common characteristic: their designs take inspiration from nature’s work. Morphing is the future. Whether it involves insect exoskeleton design for better durability, or bird wings for longer flight, nature-inspired drones now take flight.
A new drone design allows it to change form mid-air in order to avoid obstacles. Similar to a bird’s reaction when going through gaps, the UC Berkeley Morphing Drone can shrink itself to pass through its environment. It does so by folding its quadcopter wings upwards, giving it a smaller area requirement. This not only makes it possible for the drone to fit in smaller spaces, it also gives the drone the ability to change direction mid-air swiftly.
With the drone’s ability, two factors come into question. Will the added components that make it possible for the drone to fold itself make it heavier than it needs to be? In addition, how fast can the drone change its form? While in flight, time is the most important factor, as an imperfectly timed maneuver can lead to a drone crashing to the ground.
The UC Berkeley Morphing Drone passes both categories with flying colors. In field tests, it managed to fold itself within consistently half a second after the command issued. This creates a great window of opportunity, giving a drone the ability to react in a split second of incoming obstacles. For the size difference, the Morphing Drone can squeeze itself to over half its original size. This gives them the ability to go through incredibly small gaps with ease.
Real World Usage
For actual use, the UC Berkeley morphing drone is an amazing concept with unlimited potential. Rescue units can use this drone’s ability to squeeze into tight spaces, especially when looking for victims in fallen buildings. In burning structures, a drone can fly through the debris to check if there are any missing people still inside. Of course, for the average drone user, the ability to change shape mid-air means less accidents involving collisions.