Here’s some pretty cool news regarding drone longevity. Ask yourself: what’s the main cause of death for drones? Gravity. What goes up, must come down. And for these fragile flying machines, even just a few feet of falling could mean significant damage. Drones have intricate – most often light – parts. These make the drone fly, but they also make it very fragile to damage. How many times has your drones been taken out of commission because of one single fall? How often have you had to repair the entire thing just because of one single bump? These are the common problems facing drones. But that may soon be a thing of the past.
The Insect Inspired Drone:
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have created a way for drones to recover from collisions and fall without breaking. The secret to this breakthrough came through a closer look at the anatomy of insects. Yes, the EPFL created a drone hybrid (robotics and drone) based on flying insects. This means that the drone is flexible enough to absorb impact, while still having strength to return to its original form.
For drones to withstand crashes, their fragile parts – specifically their wings – must be soft and flexible. This gives the drone an adaptive quality to it. It can bend against collisions, but can return to its original shape. It also must have strength to it, to keep its flexible shape intact while in flight. Thus, a middle ground needs to be established to make this work.
The solution to this middle ground of flexible-yet-strong comes in the drone’s material. The wings of the drone is made up of both stiff plastic and flexible elastics. The stiff plastic cover the majority of the wing, while the elastics are in the joints. The elastic joints can absorb the blow and impact of crashes. The hard plastic ensures that the drone can withstand the main trauma. With the combination of these two, they have successfully created a drone that can rise back up after falling down – with minimal damage to boot.
This gives a more open possibility for more durable drones in the future. If newer drones adapt a similar design, crashing damage may soon be a forgotten problem altogether.