This Drone Uses Origami Principles To Become Foldable

Personal drones are all the rage now, even hitting mainstream media because of rather questionable antics. But not everyone might be interested in hulking quadrocopters the likes of which Amazon plans to use for deliveries. There are, of course, more than a dozen "mini" drones in the market, but these are pretty much just toys with very little strength for any sort of payload. So what to do if you want a slightly more capable UAV that can still fit on the palm of your hand? Try origami.

No, you won't be making drones out of origami. You might, however, learn from the folding principles in order to make your flying robot fold likewise. That is what Stefano Mintchev and Dario Floreano, robotics researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, did. Anyone can fold paper into different shapes, but origami folds result not just in something beautiful but also something stable and sturdy.

The drone's folding mechanism looks deceptively simple. It folders its arms around itself, which for now has to be done manually. But when it needs to fly, those arms snap out at an instant and the drone takes off. Folding drone arms are nothing new but by using origami, the researchers are able to apply more complex folds like those seen on paper that add to the stability of the arms without adding weight.

For now, the proof of concept drone is too small for any serious payload other than a small camera, but the researchers are confident the same line of thinking can be applied to bigger drones as well. Besides, it can also be more fun to watch your friends faces when your drone unfurls its wings, so to speak, and flies off to the air, compared to one whose propellers are already out in the open.