Normally the arrangement of propellors on quadcopters is such that they form a square configuration with one at each corner. This is efficient but makes it hard for the aircraft to weave through narrow spaces. This is about to change with the Quad-Morphing Drone.
The Quad-Morphing Drone has been created at France’s Étienne Jules Marey Institute of Movement Sciences and is equipped with two horizontal arms, each having an upwards-facing prop at either end. These arms are perpendicular to the drone’s central axis during the flight and results in the familiar square-like configuration we are used to.
However, when the drone needs to squeeze through a gap, which does not allow it to pass in that configuration, a system of flexible and rigid wires rotate the arms so that they are parallel to the drone’s central axis. This makes the four propellers in a row and halves the wingspan of the aircraft.
This configuration is not a very stable one and doesn’t provide as good control as is available in the normal state, but it allows the drone to move through the gap at a speed of 9 km/h. Once the drone has passed through the gap, the arms rotate back out again.
During the testing indoors, the rotation of the arms is controlled by a 3D localization system. This system consists of an array of 17 stationary cameras that are constantly tracking the drone during its flight. There is also a high-speed camera on the drone which will eventually allow the drone to open and close the arms when needed.
You can watch the video of the drone here.