Researchers from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) created an insect-inspired drone that can switch from being stiff to flexible. Everyday consumer drones like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Parrot ANAFI are built with plastic, so they are rigid and prone to breaking when they crash. The Insect-Inspired drone stiffens when it flies and becomes flexible once it crashes, making it ideal for minimizing damage. EPFL uploaded a video explaining the technology behind the insect-inspired drone:
Tech behind the drone
The drone’s design was inspired by the current trend of “softer” robots, which are basically drones that adapt themselves for different functions. The insect-inspired drone’s uniqueness is made possible thanks to a combination of stiff and elastic layers. The elastomer membrane can be stretched in between rigid plates, which is what EPFL researchers call the Sandwich structure.