Pocket-Sized Drone Unfolds and Self-Deploys Almost Instantly

Engineers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have developed small drones that fold into the shape of a trapezoid when not in use, making them easier to package and transport. Inspired by origami, the design allows for the drone to unfurl and self-deploy within half a second. When activated, the force of the spinning rotors pop out the articulated arms, which are held in place by small magnets. The arms are made from fiberglass and polyester and, once the rotors are fully extended, the upper section shifts horizontally and locks into place. The design team is working on a version that would fold back up on its own, along with additional improvements to allow for increased carrying weight and strength.