Students at Singapore's University of Technology and Design have developed a drone that can transition from hovering to flying as a fixed-wing aircraft. 

While normal multicopter drones are effective at hovering and Vertical Take-Off and Landing, they can't travel long-distance as efficiently as aircraft with fixed wings. 

So students at SUTD incorporated both design aspects in the drone prototype, dubbed THOR (Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft).  

The THOR drone's design inspiration came from the samara seed - a tree seed that is capable of flying long distances because of its stable shape. Pictured is the drone in hover more

According to New Atlas, THOR's design inspiration came from the samara seed - a 'helicopter' tree seed that is capable of flying long distances because of its stable shape.



When the drone is in hover mode, it can rotate its wings (servos) by 90 degrees to transition to cruise mode, 

During this transition, centrifugal force of switch is used to move the ballast, a weight in an aircraft used to bring the center of gravity into the allowable range, to keep the aircraft balanced. 

While the drone is still at the prototype phase, the students who developed it say it could have a wide range of applications.

While the drone is still at the prototype phase, the students who developed it say it could have a wide range of applications. For example, it could be used in agriculture, surveillance and deliveries

When the drone is in hover mode (left), it can rotate its wings by 90 degrees (middle) to transition to cruise mode (right). And when in cruise mode, it can do the reverse to switch to hover mode

In an interview with IEEE Spectrum, lead author of the research Jun En Low and Professor Shaohui Foong said that the drone's applications would be useful for: 'Anything that requires both long range and an agile hover.' 

There are still some modifications that need to be made before the drone could be made commercially available. 

The research team is working on a system that will allow the THOR drone to glide down safely without power should the drone malfunction and fall

For example, the research team is working on a system that will allow the drone to glide down safely without power should the drone malfunction and fall. 

While the drone isn't technically a monocopter because it has two wings, it is designed in the style of a monocopter. 

For example, Lockheed Martin unveiled its Samarai Flyer monocopter in 2011, which weighed half a pound and had on-board video streaming. 

When the drone is in hover mode (left), it can rotate its wings (servos) by 90 degrees (middle) to transition to cruise mode (right).

During this transition, centrifugal force of switch is used to move the ballast, a weight in an aircraft used to bring the center of gravity into the allowable range, to keep the aircraft balanced. 

Graphic of the Thor aircraft in hover mode. Pictured are all of the prototypes principal components 

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