This Flying ‘Dragon’ Drone Can Change Shape In Midair

Researchers at the University of Tokyo’s JSK Lab have developed a “dragon drone,” made up of several small drones and capable of transforming on the fly, as reported by IEEE. Not only can the drone change into different shapes, like a square or curved line, it can also autonomously decide what shape it needs to change into depending on the space it’s required to navigate.

Moju Zhao, an assistant professor at the University of Tokyo, told Digital Trends that the company isn’t done yet.

We will [next] move forward to design a ‘multi-legged’ model with our basic link module. Then the robot can not only fly, but also walk on the ground. This can benefit us in terms of the energy efficiency,” he said. “Such autonomous decision about locomotion according to the environment is very interesting research. Our ultimate dream is to achieve the flying humanoid, like an unmanned Iron Man.

The small drones are each powered by a pair of ducted fans that can be adjusted to vector thrust in almost any direction. The whole thing is powered by an Intel Euclid dev kit and has a battery pack along the spine that provides up to three minutes of flight time. This particular version of the DRAGON drone in the video has four modules and is shown rearranging itself into a square, as well as unraveling to move upward through a small opening.

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