A Reconfigurable Drone: Morph Between Fixed-Wing and Multi-Rotor
Available for Collaboration or Funding
At A Glance
Researchers at Colorado State University have developed a reconfigurable drone that can switch between having a multi-rotor and fixed wing, allowing the drone the ability to have high agility in addition to access to narrow spaces.
Existing drones are either based on fixed wings or multi-rotors, each of which has their own advantages and disadvantages. Drones with fixed wings are more energy efficient to fly for a larger range. However, they are not as agile as drones with multi-rotors: they cannot take off vertically, hover in space, or access confined spaces. Drones with multi-rotors (e.g., quadcopters), on the other hand, are agile, but they can only fly for only a short time (< 30 minutes) due to high energy consumption, preventing them from applications for long-duration and large-range tasks (e.g., inspection and mapping a large area).
The invention is a novel reconfigurable drone that can morph between a multi-rotor and fixed wing configuration to fully exploit the advantages of both types of drones. Such a drone is initially a quadcopter with wings folded into the body. With folded wings, the drone has:
- high agility to take off vertically or hover in space; and
- compact size to access narrow spaces
The drone can thusly change to a fixed-wing configuration by unfolding the two wings to enable energy-efficient forward flight for long duration tasks.
The reconfigurable drone has the ability to transform between a fixed-wing and a quadcopter at any time.
Fixed-wing and multi rotor
Excellent maneuverability and portability
Easy to use
Vertical take‑off and precise landing with access to narrow spaces
Military – stealth surveillance and reconnaissance
- Civilian / Commercial – inspections in cluttered or indoor environments (e.g., mining facilities, oil and gas infrastructures, or manufacturing sites, etc.); package delivery in residential areas
Last updated: May 2020