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HyderabadIIIT-Hyderabad creates drone that changes shape

IIIT-Hyderabad creates drone that changes shape

Published: 6th Apr 2021 11:56 pm

Hyderabad: Researchers from the Robotics Research Centre at the International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad have unveiled a working prototype of a flexible drone that changes its shape to fit the size of package to be lifted.

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“Current design of drones focuses only on the weight of parcels to be lifted ignoring their size. Packages, however, come in various sizes and is an important parameter to be factored in,” said Suraj Bonagiri, robotics researcher.

“Since drones are typically designed to carry specific payloads, forcibly fitting and lifting inappropriate payloads will lead to instability, loss in efficiency and even compromise on safety,” said Bonagiri, who researched on the mechanism behind a reconfigurable quadcopter.

Unlike other rigid drones, Bonagiri’s patent pending design which he calls ‘Elasticopter’, has a flexible chassis and a novel mechanism that expands or collapses. It can grip and match the shape of the parcel to be lifted.

“With this method of attachment to cargo, the mass is always centred and results in an optimal battery performance. It also ranks high on the stability front due to the unique positioning of the propellers,” he said.

“In our design, there is zero propwash interference with the payload no matter its size,” he said. He set out to validate the superiority of his design via a series of simulations comparing current drones with the Elasticopter. “We found that in existing drones, even if they can lift and deliver packages of varying shapes, the battery life and flight time is short lived because it’s not done in an optimal manner,” said Bonagiri. Prof Spandan Roy and Prof Madhava Krishna guided him in the project.

Prakash Yalla, Head, Product Labs, said: “For us, this is a text book case of students taking their research to the market. It is exciting to see some deep research taking shape.”

Bonagiri leveraged the Maker’s Lab and is now pre-incubated at Product Labs. The initial prototype he built won him a productisation grant of Rs 8 lakh from the institute. Fabrication of the second prototype design using high quality materials is currently underway and a commercial model is expected to go public by the end of the year.

“Materials movement is a key use case for this drone design,” says Ramesh Loganathan, Head (Outreach). It will be useful in warehouses, on manufacturing floors, e-commerce supply chain operations, medicine delivery and such where there are packages of different sizes and frequent movement is needed”.. “We found that in existing drones, even if they can lift and deliver packages of varying shapes, the battery life and flight time is short lived because it’s not done in an optimal manner,” said Bonagiri. Prof Spandan Roy and Prof Madhava Krishna guided him in the project.

Prakash Yalla, Head, Product Labs, said: “For us, this is a text book case of students taking their research to the market. It is exciting to see some deep research taking shape.”

Bonagiri leveraged the Maker’s Lab and is now pre-incubated at Product Labs. The initial prototype he built won him a productisation grant of Rs 8 lakh from the institute. Fabrication of the second prototype design using high quality materials is currently underway and a commercial model is expected to go public by the end of the year.

“Materials movement is a key use case for this drone design,” says Ramesh Loganathan, Head (Outreach). It will be useful in warehouses, on manufacturing floors, e-commerce supply chain operations, medicine delivery and such where there are packages of different sizes and frequent movement is needed”.


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