Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a flying robot meant to be used indoors called DRAGON. That stands for Dual-Rotor embedded multilink Robots of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformation.” They really wanted to use that DRAGON name.
If you have ever seen a dragon kite in flight, you will certainly see the resemblance to the robot. It’s powered by ducted fans and can transform on the fly into different shapes. The ducted fans allow the bot to be a square, or snake, or any other shape its design allows.
Being able to transform is important because that allows the bot to change shapes, so it can transverse obstacles and fit through holes to get to its goal. DRAGON is constructed from a series of linked modules watch with a pair of ducted fan thrusters. These thrusters can roll and pitch to vector the robot in any direction wanted.
Each module is connected to the next with a hinged joint and the entire robot is powered by a battery pack and Intel Euclid tech. The battery gives about a three-minute flight time. The prototype is made of four modules, so it can act as a quadrotor.
The transformable nature of DRAGON means it can fly in three different shapes including a straight line, box, “L”, or 3D shapes like a zig-zag or spiral. Designers say that the DRAGON robot can autonomously change shape to fit through the space it needs to traverse. DRAGON can use up to 12 linked modules.