First, we had computers that did an incredible job of making life easier; faster processing of data, presentable results, changing the gaming experiences and general entertainment and lifestyle. Then came smartphones which we’re glued too (my family complains as I’m always consuming content even during lunch). Google became smarter built maps, fitness we pretty much depend on Google, it’s like god it has all the answers – anything our brain can’t process, just Google it.

Then we built AI, think of self-driving cars – Transformer the movie would paint a perfect image of what I’m talking, well, except the part where Optimus Prime stands on two and start fighting, that’s pure fiction for the movie but keep reading maybe it may change how you view the future of our world. Nowadays, we have AI virtual assistant IBM Watson, Siri, Google Assistant among others that responds by a few words and it does what you want, I particularly use Google Assistant, all I need to say is Ok Google, and it does whatever I want, “call mom”, “remind me to text my girlfriend goodnight at 10 pm”.

A few years ago came the flying robots called Drones, which have helped especially in remote areas to deliver medicinal drugs, shoot movies, collect information for journalistic purposes in countries where the media is controlled by state, shoot down criminals, and of course spy your neighbour or simply use the drone to look at your crush when she’s sleeping.

Now, drones have been made smarter and can change shape based on the space available. Researchers at the University of Zurich and EPFL have created a drone that shrinks to fit through gaps, a feature that could make it perfect for search and rescue missions. According to Techcrunch, this extra feature — a scissor-like system to shrink the drone in flight — makes it even more versatile and allows these drones to react to larger or smaller gaps in nature.

“The idea came up after we worked on quadrotor flight through narrow gaps,” said PhD candidate Davide Falanga. “The goal of our lab is to develop drones which can be in the future used in the aftermath of a disaster, as for example an earthquake, in order to enter building through small cracks or apertures in a collapsed building to look for survivors. Our previous approach required a very aggressive manoeuvre, therefore we looked into alternative solutions to accomplish a task as passing through a very narrow gap without having to fly at high speed. The solution we came up with is the foldable drone, a quadrotor which can change its shape to adapt to the task.”

The system measures the gap and changes its shape without outside processing, a feat that is quite exciting. All of the processing is done on board and it could be turned into an autonomous system if necessary. The team built the drone with off the shelf and 3D-printed parts.

Unlike the conventional drones, the foldable drone has each arm connected to a servo motor allowing it to change position of the arm relative to the body. “This allows the robot to literally fold the arms around the body, which means that potentially any morphology can be obtained. An adaptive controller is aware of the drone’s morphology and adapts to it in order to guarantee stable flight at all times, independently of the configuration,” said Falanga.


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