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This Insect-inspired Flexible Drone Deforms Upon Impact

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Anybody who has operated drones in the past knows about accidents and crashes. Not every drone can survive hard impact. EPFL researchers have developed an insect-inspired origami-like drone that deforms upon impact and returns to its original shape.

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This drone can be stiff or flexible depending on the circumstances. Its features a

  unique combination of stiff and elastic layers. An elastomer membrane is stretched and then sandwiched between rigid plates. When the system is at rest, the plates hold together and give the structure its stiffness. But when enough force is applied, the plates draw apart and the structure can bend.

The drone builds up elastic potential energy when folded up, so it can unfold automatically. The same technology can be used to make smarter grippers.

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