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Origami Cushions Protect Drones From Collisions

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An aerial drone with origami-inspired protection against impacts.

Imperial College London researchers have demonstrated that outfitting flying drones with lightweight, impact-absorbent cushioning inspired by origami can shield them from collisions.

Credit: Imperial College London

Researchers in the Aerial Robotics Laboratory of Imperial College London in the U.K. have outfitted flying drones with lightweight, impact-absorbent cushioning inspired by origami to shield them from collisions.

Imperial College's Pooya Sareh says the Rotary Origami Protective System (Rotorigami) offers a way to "let miniature flying robots navigate in confined or cluttered spaces safely and efficiently."

The research team folded a thin, lightweight plastic sheet into simple origami pattern, and built it into a protective structure around a rotating inner frame. This structure safeguarded propellers from side impacts and helped keep the drone airborne during and after an impact.

The team's comparison of the Rotorigami-equipped drones with existing designs determined the protective structure reduced the force of an impact, and helped keep drones from spinning out of control after collisions.

Their next step is to design ways to ameliorate damage from collisions with the tops and bottoms of drones.

From Imperial College London
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