Drone design uses insect-inspired arm technology

April 18, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Drone design uses insect-inspired arm technology
Researchers at Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN) have developed a patented design for unmanned aerial vehicles that works in windy conditions and is also more energy-efficient and able to handle a larger payload than traditional drones.

Using a folding arm technology, the drone design addresses issues that face traditional drones that have fixed arms, especially when faced with windy flying conditions.

"Our drone design was inspired by the wings and flight patterns of insects," says Xiumin Diao, an assistant professor in Purdue's School of Engineering Technology. "We created a drone design with automatic folding arms that can make in-flight adjustments."

Because the folding arms can move and change the center of gravity of the device during flight, the design provides drones with improved stability in windy conditions. In addition, says Diao, the design also makes drones more energy efficient because the movable-arm technology allows for the use of the full range of rotor thrust.

"The drones on the market now have fixed arms and that greatly reduces their maximum payload capacity when the payload is offset their center of gravity," Diao says. "Our design allows a larger payload because the movable arms can liberate part of rotor thrust to fight the weight on the overall device."

The foldable arms, say the researchers, also can help in search-and-rescue operations using drones because they can more effectively navigate the air conditions in ravaged areas and morph by moving the arms to go through narrow spaces. The drone design has been patented and the researchers are now looking for additional researchers and partners to license the technology.

For more, see " Optimize Energy Efficiency of Quadrotors Via Arm Rotation ."

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