The Monospinner, developed at ETH Zurich’s Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control (IDSC), boasts being the “mechanically simplest controllable flying machine in existence,” integrating only one moving part: the rotating propeller.
It has no other parts—no flats, hinges, or control surfaces. No valves or other actuators.
While the Monospinner can’t hover like a multicopter, its asymmetrical design, providing a constant angular speed and propeller force, enables it to remain in one position. Feedback control keeps the aircraft near its equilibrium.
The drone was developed by researchers Weixuan Zhang, Mark W. Mueller, and Raffaello D’Andrea.
But while it boasts frugality, the drone can’t really do anything else: it isn’t the most subtle flying machine, so scratch surveillance. And the fact that it’s constantly spinning means capturing video is out.
Even so, it’s an interesting proof of concept, demonstrating that a drone doesn’t have to be large and complex in order to successfully take to the skies.
“When doing research we often ask ourselves abstract, fundamental questions that try to get at the heart of a matter,” researcher Raffaello D’Andrea says in his TED Talk. “One such question: what is the minimum number of moving parts necessary for controlled flight? This line of exploration may have practical ramifications; take helicopters, for example, which are affectionately known as ‘machines with over 1,000 moving parts all conspiring to cause bodily harm.’
Turns out that decades ago, skilled pilots were flying RC airplanes with only two moving parts: a propeller and a tail rudder. We recently discovered that it could be done with only one.”
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)