Designing a Dumb Flying Robot That Can Safely Crash Is Easier and Cheaper

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

As the story goes, when farmers were looking for a better way to deliver tomatos undamaged, they just engineered a more resilient vegetable. And that's basically the same approach being taken by crash-friendly flying robot researchers at the EPFL.

Instead of focusing their efforts on obstacle and collision avoidance systems, which can weigh a robot down with cameras and sensors, they've instead designed a flying bot that isn't immediately destroyed in a crash. Even birds still fly into things, and most of the time they just pick themselves up and carry on. And that's exactly what this robot is designed to do. In the event of a collision, a thin carbon fiber outer cage protects its rotors, as well as a set of four retractable legs that the robot uses to right itself after a crash.

The goal of the research is to create a flying robot that's not only resilient, but also cheaper to build and maintain since there are minimal electronics on board to get damaged when, like all unmanned flying aircraft, it eventually crashes. [YouTube via Popular Science]