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Researchers in Tokyo Invent a Robot to Autonomously Shift its Shape in Flight

The JSK Lab at the University of Tokyo has designed a modular flying robot that propels itself through the air with several small fans. The entire device is built to autonomously alter its shape during flight, allowing the robot to maneuver its way through obstacles that might obscure its path. The robot is named DRAGON, which is a simplified way of saying “Dual-rotor embedded multilink Robot with the Ability of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformatiON.

The project’s researchers imagine the robot to eventually act as a flying arm, moving its way through the air as it picks up and moves objects with a two-fingered grip. The linked modules that compose DRAGON’s body are connected via hinged joints and the entire structure is driven by an Intel Euclid which allows for a 3 minute run time. The above video shows the robot shape-shifting from a circular configuration to a snake-like object in order to pass through a small hole in the grid that lies above.

DRAGON was presented as a part of the paper “Design, Modeling and Control of Aerial Robot DRAGON: Dual-Rotor Embedded Multilink Robot with the Ability of Multi-Degree-of-Freedom Aerial Transformation,” by researchers Moju Zhao, Tomoki Anzai, Fan Shi, Xiangyu Chen, Kei Okada, and Masayuki Inaba at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2018 in Brisbane, Australia in May. (via The Kid Should See This)

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