Flight of the bumblebee? More like flight of the bumble…drone!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Engineers are always looking to make things lighter, faster, and stronger.

Origami-inspired structures are lightweight and cost-effective. That’s perfect for improving robot technology such as drones. However, they have limited use because they are fragile and can’t carry much.

Dario Floreano at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland has found the ideal balance — in nature! His inspiration? Insects!

Insect wings are stiff enough to carry their host far distances. But they can magically soften to survive crashes. The secret is a combination of stiff AND soft material known as cuticle and resilin.

Floreano’s design uses rigid plates to sandwich an elastic plastic – similar to insect wings. This elasticity allows the drone to bend at key joints before popping back into place! In other words, it can survive a crash with its structure intact. Floreano’s drone went through FIFTY crash tests – with no decrease in durability!

This type of design could not only improve our football sports cams, but also aerospace tech!

But… the question still remains: why doesn’t my flyswatter work?