The Monospinner is a Drone Capable of Flying With Only One Propeller

By: | May 6th, 2016

YouTube/Weixuan Zhang

As drone popularity continues to rise, more and more unique aerial vehicle designs are cropping up around the world.

Now, we have the Monospinner, which is described as “a controllable flying vehicle with a single moving part.”

The Monospinner is aptly named, featuring only one propeller, and while it can definitely fly, it has no real application as far as I can tell.

If an engineer had some free time, I understand the Monospinner as a proof of concept, but the creators behind the unique device seem to think extremely high of their invention.

In fact, they’ve gone so far to say that the Monospinner is the “mechanically simplest controllable flying machine in existence.”

While technically, that claim may be true, I’d love to have a better idea of its applications.

Maybe the researchers behind the Monospinner are simply holding out on us for the time being.

YouTube Description:

The Monospinner: a controllable flying vehicle with a single moving part in the ETH Zurich Flying Machine Arena

This video introduces the monospinner, the mechanically simplest controllable flying machine in existence. It has only one moving part (the rotating propeller). The vehicle features no additional actuators or aerodynamic surfaces.

The monospinner cannot hover like a standard multicopter. However, an unconventional equilibrium is found by analyzing the vehicle’s dynamics. For a certain constant angular speed and propeller force, the monospinner is able to remain substantially in one position. Feedback control keeps the vehicle near this equilibrium.

The mechanical design is chosen based on two robustness metrics: the ability to maintain hover under perturbations and the probability of input saturation based on a stochastic model. The resulting vehicle is sufficiently robust to achieve hover after being launched like a Frisbee.

Researchers: Weixuan Zhang, Mark W. Mueller and Raffaello D’Andrea

Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control (IDSC), ETH Zurich, Switzerland –

ETH Zurich, Flying Machine Arena –

This work is supported by and builds upon prior contributions by numerous collaborators in the Flying Machine Arena project. See This work was supported by the SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation).

Marshall Smith

Technology, engineering, and design enthusiast.

More articles from Industry Tap...