Flying can be simple. While modern helicopters are a complex hodge-podge of parts, the basics are, well, basic: a spinning rotor that generates lift and provides forward momentum, another contra-rotating blade to keep the vehicle level, and a compartment for people to travel inside. Without the need to worry about human passengers, flying machines can be much simpler. In fact, as a team of researchers at ETH Zurich recently proved, a flying machine can be built with just one moving part.
Let’s take another look, this time in slow-motion:
Tossed in the air like a frisbee, the aptly named “monospinner” can stabilize and spin in roughly one place. From the researchers:
Spinning in place is neat. That prevents it from being a photography tool, but the simplicity of form is interesting enough that someone could find another use for the design. Covered in flashing lights, a monospinner could be a good party trick. Covered in really bright flashing lights, maybe a monospinner becomes an alternative to flash-bang grenades.
Watch it twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom below: