An Origami-Inspired Drone Could One Day Deliver Your Packages
Origami has long inspired technological innovation. From NASA's shape-shifting radiator to foldable solar panels, the Japanese art of paper folding has lent itself to the advancement of tech related to spaceflight, renewable energy, and more.
So it's no surprise that this well of inspiration is being drawn from yet again, as researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Intelligent Systems have developed a drone that can fold down when not in use.
The drone is spherically shaped, like a cage, and made out of carbon-fiber. Other similarly shaped drones have felt lackluster success as their bulky exteriors limit their capabilities. But this drone can fold up when not in use, making it much more practical than previous models.
In addition to folding down into a compact device, the drone can also expand to hold up to 500 g (17.6 oz). This allows the device to carry objects and, therefore, make deliveries. There is a building excitement surrounding the possibility of having packages and mail delivered by drone; Amazon is well on its way to making this a widespread reality.
So it's possible that, while previous moments of progress may have been halted or slowed due to the bulky exterior of a drone capable of carrying a parcel, drones like the one designed here could provide a unique solution.
This concept makes the prospect of drone-delivery realistic. A lightweight carbon-fiber build could lend itself to fuel conservation while the origami-inspired cage design could protect and transport items when in use, and then fold down for easy, compact storage when not in use.
Perhaps origami will continue to inspire developing technologies and the future will hold fantastical devices like foldable bikes, cars, even homes. But there's nothing wrong with starting with package deliveries - this concept could actualize drone-delivery while potentially inspiring a wealth of future technology.