Monday, April 23, 2012

Flying Thing Propels Itself By Flipping Inside Out

I am not sure what practical uses this will have just yet, but it is mesmerizing to watch work.

Video embedded below.

"Flying objects can achieve forward thrust in a few ways, but here’s a unique new one: Flipping inside out to move forward. Designed by the people who brought us the amazing robot seagull, the SmartInversion flying object can move through the air indefinitely.

The object is based on a design envisioned by inventor Paul Schatz. It’s a six-sided articulated ring of prisms that attaches to a cube, and when it’s unleashed, it can start folding into new geometric shapes. As it turns itself inside out, it moves forward. This property of kinematics is called inversion.

The object is filled with helium so it will float in the air. It’s on display this week at the Hannover Messe technology trade show in Germany, where users will be able to control it with a smartphone, as seen in the video below. New Scientist reports that it’s held together by a carbon-fiber framework, and three motors control its motion, governed by a pre-programmed onboard computer.

Designers at Festo, also known for their nature-inspired robots, are now sponsoring a competition for students to figure out some practical uses for this thing.

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