Drones are a great search and rescue tool, but they would be even more impressive if they could change their size to fly through small holes. Well, the University of Zurich’s Robotics and Perception Group is showing off a shape-shifting drone that can do just that.
The Morphing Quadrotor Drone is a foldable micro aerial vehicle (MAV) with vision-based navigation that allows it to fly on its own without the help of a human. It uses onboard cameras and inertial sensors to “see” the world around it and to orient itself. There’s no GPS, laser, or any other form of external positioning system, so it can enter and explore damaged buildings and caverns easily.
The coolest thing about this drone is the smart computer vision that allows it to morph. It can detect the size of an entryway and change its size on-the-fly. As a bonus, it can also pick up objects using the folding arms. Very impressive indeed.
The ability to change its size quickly while maintaining stable flight the entire time could be a great aid to search and rescue operations in the future.
[via Mike Shouts]