Those who ever flown a drone would not deny that they have crashed their drones several times. Drones will usually be damaged, having parts torn off from the fuselage, when it crashes and hit the ground from hundreds of feet above. There are ways to solve the problem, including installing a parachute to the drone, or even better, making the drone withstand crashes. Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland developed a flexible frame system that enables the drone to overcome impact by deforming itself and bouncing back into shape to fly again.
A group of researched from Floreano Lab, NCCR Robotics and EPFL have come up with a potential solution to drone crashes: making drones with rubbery, deformable arms that are magnetically attached to the central frame of the drone. Inspired by insect wings that have dual stiffness properties and are shock absorbent, the prototype drone has proven itself to be compliant and durable, withstanding collisions without any permanent deformations.
The central case of the drone is surrounded by an external frame made from highly flexible and lightweight fibreglass which is only 0.3mm thick. The frame is connected to the central case by magnetic joints and soft elastic bands while flexible wiring handles the electronics. When impact is applied, the frame magnet detaches and the outer frame becomes soft and deformable, absorbing shock from the central case and preventing permanent damage to the arms and frame. After the impact, the magnet is pulled back in line by elastic bands and the drone restores its normal shape, ready to fly again.
Having this upgrade on the multirotor copter, it will neither hurt people nor require any repair fees. In an experiment, the drone was dropped from 2 meters high to the ground below and the drone instantly return to the original state after impact. The researchers carried out more than 50 tests on the same drone, and not one time the drone was permanently damaged. They believe that this ‘mechanical resilient’ technology is not only limited to drones but can also benefit various types of mechanical devices, as most devices are prone crashes and permanent damages.