The Scope, the Official STEMscopes Blog

Drone Science: How Quadrotors Work

Posted by Science Explored on March 13, 2013

Drones have been making headlines in the news lately.  From the military to celebrity gossip show, TMZ, it seems that everyone wants a drone.  As a result, drones have received a lot of media attention lately but are often misunderstood.  Drones are simply remote controlled robots.  We are probably most familiar with large, aerial drones, but there are also seafaring ones.  A remote control car even qualifies as a drone.   Today we’re going to focus on the most popular and accessible drone to consumers:  the quadrotor.

Quadrotors, or quadcopters, are among humanity’s oldest flying machines.  In 1922 the massive Jerome-de Bothezat quadrotor (also know as the “Flying Octopus”) was one the first to make several, low-altitude flights (5 meters off the ground).  At the time, enormous, hydrogen-filled blimps were the only flying vehicles.  The Flying Octopus was proof that early inventors could make something fly in an entirely new way by using rotors, or a type or rotating wing.  If quadrotors were among the oldest flying vehicles why have they made a comeback now?  After all, the Flying Octopus had numerous failures:  it was complicated to control, unable to fly long distances because of fuel, and could not reach high speeds due to its weight and lack of power.  Still, in many ways, its design was ahead of its time but the technology needed to make it function as well as its designers had dreamed was lacking.

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Topics: Science Explored, quadrotor, forces, drone

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