Researchers at Liverpool University in collaboration with Imperial College have discovered that the ancient art of origami can be used to secure drones from collisions.

Experts have taken inspiration from origami to provide drones with a lightweight, impact-absorbent cushioning to secure them from scrapes and bumps, without affecting the flight performance,

The research which was published in Science Robotics, has revealed that how drones equipped with the Rotary Origami Protective System experience less force and harm at the time of collision, and which are able to maintain flying after impact with some barriers.

Lead author Dr Pooya Sareh, who led the research at Imperial’s Department of Aeronautics and now handles the Creative Design Engineering Lab at the University of Liverpool said, “With the help of origami-inspired protective layer, we have built a way to let miniature flying robots navigate in confined or cluttered spaces safely and efficiently.”

Origami cushions protect drones from collisions

She inserted that, “We have made a lightweight, impact-absorbing, rotating bumper for drones successfully which makes them more resilient to crashes.”

Dr Sareh and colleagues folded a thin, lightweight sheet of plastic into a descendant of the Miura-ori fold that is said to be an easy origami pattern which is suitable especially for the engineering applications and then to construct the preventive structure throughout a rotating inner frame.

All the propellers can be protected by one structure at once from side-on collisions, and supported to sustain the vehicle in the air during and after the impact.

The potency of Rotorigami-equipped drones with existing designs are tested and compared by the researchers and discovered that the protective structure supported them to minimize the force of an impact, and guided to keep the drone from uncontrolled spinning after the collision.

The team have said they need to apply their origami bumper designs on the larger drones that navigate rainforests with the bulk loads.

Watch a video of Drone collision with and without origami cushion: