The Quad-Morphing robot. (©Valentin Rivière and Stéphane Viollet, Étienne Jules Marey Institute of Movement Sciences (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université)

An aerial robot capable of altering its profile during flight paves the way for a new generation of large robots that can move through narrow passages, making them ideal for exploration as well as search and rescue missions. The flying robot can reduce its wingspan in flight to move through a small opening without intensive steering that would consume too much energy and require a robotic platform featuring a low-inertia, light, and small robot.

Dubbed Quad-Morphing, the new robot has two rotating arms each equipped with two propellers for helicopter-like flight. An autopilot activates arm reorientation when the robot nears a tight passage, as determined by a 3D localization system.