Don't expect to watch beautiful 4K footage captured by this drone anytime soon, unless you want to experience intense motion sickness. As Popular Mechanics reports, the Monospinner, developed by researchers with the Flying Machine Arena project, manages to fly despite having only one moving part. With a single propeller on one end of its T-shaped frame, the drone spins in circles as it flies and is somehow able to maintain its balance while being guided with a controller.
Despite its simple design and unorthodox flying style, the researchers explain in the video (above) that the algorithm used to control the machine is actually quite complicated. Eric Limer of Popular Mechanics describes the flight pattern as "carefully controlled chaos," adding that "with a lopsided design and single propeller, it can't ever be stable in a traditional sense but through the use of a clever algorithm it can vary the thrust of its propeller from moment to moment in order to maintain a wacky, but stable spin." Active control is required at all times to keep the drone airborne; without it, the spin takes it off course.
The Monospinner lacks the calm demeanor of a hovering quadcopter, as well as the grace of a pirouetting ballerina, but its ability to fly at all is impressive. The team that created it hopes to someday take their design a step further by developing a machine with no moving parts.