Since drones entered mainstream consciousness, people have gotten creative with developing new ideas for how they can be used. Drones can deliver food and other small items. They can even bake cakes or play instruments when configured properly. Now, a team of researchers at UC Berkeley’s High Performance Robotics Laboratory (HiPeRLab) has created a 'Passively Morphing Quadcopter' that can temporarily shrink down to squeeze through small spaces.

While this isn't the first drone that can compress its shape mid-flight, it is the only one that can shift its shape without using any additional hardware components. This feature helps preserve battery life, enabling the aircraft the fly even longer. Engines enable the arms to rotate freely and constant force springs provide the momentum to change shape. When no thrust is applied, the springs pull the arms into a folded configuration.

When the drone approaches an opening smaller than it can fit, it can plot a course that allows its arms to retract as it's flying through a small small space. The rotors shut off and after the drone passes through, it loses a bit of altitude as it powers back up. While this set up can offer up a number of useful real-world applications, like inspecting hard-to-reach areas, there is still work to be done by the HiPeRLab team for it to work in any other scenario where there isn't a wide open area on the other side of a small space for the drone to squeeze though. Nevertheless, when perfected, it could make for an innovative filmmaking tool.