Of all of the weird and wonderful ways nature creates resilient bodies, perhaps the most underappreciated is simply being so squidgy your problems just bounce off you. Well, a group of biomimicry researchers from Swiss university EPFL are taking note, and have created a soft, crash-proof drone modeled after the flexible bodies of insects.
According to IEEE Spectrum, the scientists were inspired by a unique joint found in wasp wings. These joints allow the creatures’ wings to stay stiff during flight, but “reversibly crumple” in the case of a crash — saving the thin membranes from tearing. The EPFL researchers didn’t copy this system exactly for their quadcopters, but paired a flexible external frame with a magnetic coupling system that joins the frame to the central body. In the event of a crash the body pops out of the frame before clicking back into place.