Scientists at the University of Tokyo in Japan have developed a modular flying robot powered by ducted fans that can change shape while the device is in flight.
The Dual-rotor embedded multilink Robot with the Ability of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformatiON (DRAGON) can transform from a square to a snake and any shape in between, enabling it to stretch out to pass through small holes.
DRAGON is comprised of a series of linked modules connected to each other via powered hinged joints. Each module consists of a pair of ducted fan thrusters that can be actuated to move in almost any direction.
DRAGON is "a breakthrough in hardware design which, in a beautiful way, connects a manipulation arm with a ducted fan-driven aerial robot," says the University of Tokyo's Fan Shi.
From IEEE Spectrum
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