Skip to main content

By now, most of us have seen a typical quad-motor drone. These little doohickies are everywhere. They are buzzing around sporting events, firework shows, off-road races, and just about anywhere else there’s enough to sky to fly them. However, while we’ve been playing with the little helicopter-looking things, Engineers have been hard at work making a new kind of drone that looks more like a dragon or UFO than it does any drones we’ve seen before

What is a dragon drone, and should we hide from it? 

The dragon drone is one of the wildest things this writer has ever seen with a motor on it. This far more radical eight-motor drone was created at the University of Tokyo. The researchers who created this mechanical beast have worked on it for years. However, recent updates have brought this little dragon into the limelight. 

Aside from it being a literal mechanical sky serpent, the most remarkable thing about this new drone is how it remains stable in any position. 

How does the UFO Dragon drone work? 

Dragon drone making a diamond shape.
Dragon Drone in diamond shape | University of Tokyo

The Drive explains that by using eight individually controlled small ducted fans, the aircraft can lift loads up to 1 kilogram, manipulate objects like rotary valves and doors, and transform itself into various shapes to maneuver around obstacles. Tiny lithium-polymer batteries power the device. The frame is kept lightweight by using carbon fiber tubes. The Drive mentions that the parts to make this UFO-looking object are widely available. 

While anyone could build the thing, few could program it. Its ability to stabilize itself with all eight motors in any configuration is nothing short of amazing. You know it’s a monumental feat because when was the last time you saw something move like this? 

The normal quadrotor drones don’t require nearly as intricate programming because no matter what maneuver you make, the motors are always in the same place doing the same things. In the Dragon’s case, the thrust fans can be moving constantly and shifting to locations unsuitable for stabilization. 

What can this UFO snake do? 

The dragon drone in mid flight could look like a UFO.
Dragon Drone | University of Tokyo

At first, the video footage is so crazy you forget even to wonder why the team made it. What can a flying spaghetti noodle do? 

The advantage of a drone like this is that it can manipulate the world around it more effectively than a conventional quadcopter. The Drive describes the drone as something to the effect of a flying robot arm. It becomes a pretty interesting tool when you think about it that way. 

So far, the drone’s limitations require it to stay in the lab. That said, the little dragon seems to be coming together nicely, especially when you see previous iterations of it. 

In a world where news headlines cite UFOs regularly, new drone designs should be noted and documented. Seeing this drone surely opens up the option that something flying that we can’t explain doesn’t have only to be one thing. There seem to be plenty of things flying around that most of us have never seen. Maybe it’s dragons?