Quadrotors have been used in many areas such as cargo transportation, agriculture, and search and rescue. The low energy density of power sources and the low energy efficiency of quadrotors have prevented quadrotors from a wider range of applications where a large payload has to be carried or long flight time is required. This paper optimizes the energy efficiency of a quadrotor via rotating its arms to proper positions calculated based on the dynamics model of the quadrotor and the power–thrust curve of rotors. The conditions that a quadrotor in steady-state can achieve the optimal energy efficiency are mathematically derived and the energy efficiency of a quadrotor in various scenarios is analyzed. Based on the analysis, an arm-rotation approach is proposed to optimize the energy efficiency of a quadrotor with a center-of-gravity offset in steady hovering. It is shown with simulation that an example quadrotor with rotatable arms can save up to 13% of energy. Experiments show that the same example quadrotor can save even more energy in practice, owing to the byproduct of the arm-rotation approach.

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