Researchers at EPFL developed a spherical drone that can be folded up to be more compact when not in the air, and unfolds to protect packages of up to 500 g while making deliveries. There loads of drones with a spherical frame for extra safety and durability, but that surrounding cage makes them much bulkier and not really suitable for carrying packages. In order to carry larger packages, the drones have to be larger, that is a problem on the ground to store them. This means larger blades that could be dangerous to be near during takeoffs and landings.
Using an origami-like carbon-fiber cage, the new EPFL drone gets around all of these problems by containing both the package, and propellers inside a folding composite cage. It protects the payload in the event of a collision, and it means that the recipient can catch the drone if the delivery needs to be made to the window of a building.
The cage folds flat in a single movement, reducing the craft’s volume by 92 percent. It is controlled through an app and can follow a flight plan to avoid obstacles, as well as returning autonomously to base after it’s completed its mission. In a future version it will have included parachute. The video below introduces the foldable drone.