Insect-inspired arm technology aims to improve drones

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Researchers in the USA  has developed a drone which with folding arms inspired by insects that works better in windy conditions, is more energy-efficient and can handle larger payloads compared to other drones.

Xiumin Diao, an assistant professor at Purdue University’s School of Engineering has patented the design which improves stability in windy conditions because the folding arms can move and change the center of gravity of the device during flight.

Diao said, “Our drone design was inspired by the wings and flight patterns of insects. We created a drone design with automatic folding arms that can make in-flight adjustments.”

The design can also makes drones more energy efficient because the movable-arm technology allows for the use of the full range of rotor thrust. The research has been published in the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control.

“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 said. “Our design allows a larger payload because the movable arms can liberate part of rotor thrust to fight the weight on the overall device.”

Diao added the foldable arms could also help in search-and-rescue operations by more effectively navigating the air conditions in ravaged areas and changing the length and shape of the arms to go through narrow spaces.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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