Medical News Drone can transform into a tiny car to slide under small gaps
22 May 2019
The shape-shifting droneDavid Zarrouk/BGU
By Yvaine YeA shape-shifting drone can transform into a car once it touches down. The drone, called FSTAR, can move through a variety of surfaces and environments, making it a potentially helpful tool in search and rescue missions.
FSTAR has a wheel and a propeller on each of its four legs. The prototype is about 35 centimeters long and 25 centimeters wide.
During operation, a human pilot uses a controller to drive FSTAR and change its configurations. When FSTAR is flying as a quadcopter, its four legs are in the same plane as its body, parallel to the ground.
When it lands and receives the commend to turn into a car, a motor on FSTAR’s body pulls its legs from horizontal to vertical so that its wheels touch the ground. However, instead of being perpendicular to the ground like those of a regular car, FSTAR’s wheels are slanted, similar to the sprawling legs of a spider.
“Tilted wheels work better than vertical wheels,” says David Zarrouk at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, one of the drone’s creators. “They are more stable, especially on smooth surfaces, so you can drive at a higher speed.”
FSTAR can drive at up to 2.6 metres per second and reaches 15 metres per second when flying. It can lower its height—from 17.5 centimetres to 9.5 centimetres—by spreading its legs out even more. This can help FSTAR squeeze under small gaps, Zarrouk says.
Zarrouk and his colleagues tested FSTAR at a construction site on their university campus. They managed to get it to crawl over rubble and fly in the air when obstacles were too big to drive over.
The team hope to add GPS and artificial intelligence to FSTAR so it can autonomously navigate and know when to change shape.
This work was presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Montreal this week.
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