Researchers from the University of Tokyo won a UAV award at the 2018 International Conference on Robotics and Automation last month for their dual-rotor, multilink aerial robot that can transform into different shapes midair. The UAV is still a prototype, but its shapeshifting capabilities can be seen in this unlisted YouTube video by IEEE Spectrum:
The prototype UAV is called DRAGON, which is short for “Dual-rotor embedded multilink Robot with the Ability of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformation,” according to Jouhou System Kougaku Laboratory (JSK Lab) from the University of Tokyo. The dragon drone is designed to be an autonomous UAV that can adapt itself to fly through obstacles.
The video showed the prototype start from a square shape and extend into a snake-like figure. The transformation is the just the beginning of the UAV’s true potentials. The dragon drone will be designed to one day be able to grip objects like a human arm.
Photo credit: Semantic Scholar