“Our drone design was inspired by the wings and flight patterns of insects,” Diao. “We created a drone design with automatic folding arms that can make in-flight adjustments.”
The researcher noted that because the UAV design did not have fixed arms like a traditional rigid "quadcopter" drone, its adjustable arms could adjust the aircraft's center of gravity during the flight. In addition, Diao said that the full range of the UAVs thrust power could be taken advantage of thanks to the adjustable arms, which boosts energy efficiency and payload capacity.
Diao, along wiht Hao Xiong and Jin Hu, had a paper published on the design. In the abstract, they noted that "an arm-rotation approach is proposed to optimize the energy efficiency of a quadrotor with a center-of-gravity offset in steady hovering. It is shown with simulation that an example quadrotor with rotatable arms can save up to 13% of energy. Experiments show that the same example quadrotor can save even more energy in practice, owing to the byproduct of the arm-rotation."
“The drones on the market now have fixed arms and that greatly reduces their maximum payload capacity when the payload is offset their center of gravity,” Diao said. “Our design allows a larger payload because the movable arms can liberate part of rotor thrust to fight the weight on the overall device.”
To patent his device, Diao worked with the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, and they are looking for more researchers and partners to license the technology.