A group of researchers at the University of Tokyo has developed a robot that can fly and also change its shape to move through complex environments. Known as Dual-rotor embedded multilink Robot with the Ability of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformatiON ‘DRAGON’, the robot can also manipulate objects. Designed with individual links that come together to form a single entity, each link consist of two thrusters that power them.
According to the researchers, DRAGON consist of rotors capable of multi-axial rotation that grants the links a massive expanse in the degrees of freedom of movement. They are very interested in their individual form, but it’s a whole different story when they combine together and form the DRAGON.
One of the research contributor at JSK Lab, Fan Shi said;
A breakthrough in hardware design which, in a beautiful way, connects a manipulation arm with a ducted fan-driven aerial robot.” The robot seems to be an ideal platform for aerial manipulation, and I really look forward to its further applications and research.
DRAGON can change its shape when flying because, each module uses a powered hinge joint to connect with each other. It can slither its way into tight spaces with precision because each rotor can move in different direction. DRAGON runs on the Intel’s Euclid development kit powered by a battery pack located between the rotors.
It has the ability to determine which shape to transform into by analyzing the complexity of the environment and the gaps between. It can pick up things while while flying and also wrap around objects and move them. Although still a prototype but this can help improve the development of aerial robotics.