The Dragon Drone is an experimental drone built by the researchers of JSK Lab situated at the University of Tokyo. The drone consists of 12 pieces which can move independently of each other. Using a ducted fan model, the drone can shift its shape mid-air. This allows it to pass through tiny openings which would be impossible to navigate otherwise. The drone is modeled on the design of traditional Chinese kites in which the tail is made of smaller interconnected kites. Researchers claim that the name of the drone, i.e. Dragon, is actually an acronym, standing for “Dual-rotor embedded multilink Robot with the Ability of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformatiON”.
As can be seen in a demonstration video released by the researchers, the drone passes through tiny opening. This ability can be useful in situations like collapsed buildings. But its researchers say that they view the drone as an extended flexible arm which can perform a variety of tasks such as lifting and moving things. The drone is powered by Intel Euclid dev kit and has a battery pack along its spine. In research conditions, it was found to have a maximum flight time of 3 minutes.
Even though there are no goals for immediate production, the idea of shape-shifting drone opens up new and exciting possibilities.