March 15, 2017

We say it time and again, whether you are a beginner drone pilot, getting into the drone racing scene, or just casually fly your camera drone at the park, you’re going to crash. Avoiding a crash is ideal, but when a bump does happen, what can be done to minimize damage?

Researchers at a university in Switzerland have a new approach to mitigating damage, they’ve built an extremely flexible drone. Based off of the wings of insects and using magnets at its core, this concept drone pretty much disassembles itself on impact, then puts itself back together!

Looking at the tech, the propeller arms of this small drone are inspired by the folding joints of the wings of a wasp. When either crash, the joints allow the arms, or wings, to fold dramatically to prevent damage. It looks like things are going horribly wrong, but the flexibility prevents harm.

The next stage to the drone, which we suspect is even more important than the flexible arms, the core of the drone is connected by magnet. Each propeller arm connects to the core via magnet, in the even of a crash, with enough force the magnet releases. Allowing the arms to disconnect offers similar damage prevention as allowing the arms to fold.

Once the drone has endured the worst of a crash, there are elastics that work to pull the propeller arms back into place. The arms naturally return to their form and the drone is complete one again.

Related reading: Cheap drones guide – if you’re going to crash, crash an inexpensive quadcopter

Electronics are powered through connections in the magnet, so power to the propeller motors is cut when the arm separates as well. After some testing, about fifty crashes actually, the drone is said to show no signs of wear or permanent damage. I’m impressed, to say the least.

It will be fun to see if this design technique graduates from university and ends up on drones in a store near you. Until then, read all about it and enjoy this fun explanation video before dropping your damage prevention ideas in the comments below.

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