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Aerodynamics

Researchers inspired by the wings of swifts and swftlets have developed an experimental Mi...

As I look out of my office window and watch the heart-stopping acrobatics of feeding swifts, it's not difficult to see why so many aircraft designers find inspiration in nature - from birds to bats to insects. Now it's the turn of the swift. Hoping to demonstrate the endurance and performance benefits of a combined flapping and gliding approach to Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) design, researchers have developed an experimental flyer capable of combining both unsteady and steady aerodynamics.  Read More

The decade long development campaign could not possibly be amortized effectively across ju...

Lexus' LFA supercar is, or was, the most exclusive vehicle ever built by the world’s largest automobile manufacturer – only 500 of the exotic carbon fiber 200 mph V10s will be sold at US$375,000 apiece. Now the racetrack-focused “LFA Nürburgring Package” is set to be revealed. Only 50 such 562 bhp vehicles will be produced with revised aerodynamics and technical refinements designed to fine-tune the exotic two-seat sports coupe to be capable of lapping the fabled Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit under 7:20. Now the average Gomer needs more than just a wad of cash, industrial-sized gonads and a sweet handling, brutally powerful car to get around the “Green Hell” inside eight minutes, let alone seven twenty, so the price includes special instruction sessions on the circuit into the bargain. The car can be had in white, orange or black at US$445,000 or in and matte black for US$465,000, making it the most expensive Japanese road car ever.  Read More

Alexander Alexeev and Hassan Masoud, with their computer model of flapping-wing flight (Ph...

Imagine insect-like aircraft capable of military or civilian surveillance missions, impossible for current fixed-wing or rotary-wing vehicles – tiny flying machines able to access buildings reduced to rubble by earthquakes, or act as a fly-on-the-wall in the meeting rooms of enemy leaders. Such aircraft may be one step closer to realization, thanks to a breakthrough in our understanding of how flapping wings work.  Read More

This computer-generated graphic shows a model of the cruise-efficient, short take-off and ...

What's wrong with this picture? If you said the engines are upside down, you'd be wrong. The odd engine placement is part of a cruise-efficient, short take-off and landing (CESTOL) aircraft concept from the Georgia Tech Research Institute which also sees mechanical wing-flaps replaced by high-speed blasts of air to generate extra lift. It's hoped that the development of such craft will make more airports available to fixed-wing jet aircraft by enabling take off and landing at steep angles on short runways, as well as reducing engine noise.  Read More

An exploded view of the Chevrolet Cruze's air shutter system

The Honda Civic hybrid gets approximately 45 mpg on the highway, while the similarly-sized 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco gets 40 mpg. That's pretty decent on the Chevy’s part, considering it isn’t even a hybrid. Of course, because it isn’t a hybrid, that means it doesn’t sport a hybrid’s price tag - the Cruze Eco will start at $US18,895, as opposed to the Honda’s $23,800. So, how is it possible for a combustion-engined car to almost match a hybrid’s fuel efficiency? Well, lowering the weight and the ride height help a bit, but according to Chevrolet, the real reason lies in the car’s unique front air shutter system.  Read More

Aerodynamics meets art: NeilPryde launches high-end road bikes

If you're into windsurfing, you'll most likely be familiar with the NeilPryde brand. Now the company is taking a step in another direction by diving into the high-performance road bicycle market. Designed in partnership with BMW's DesignworksUSA, the result is a highly aerodynamic machine developed from extensive wind-tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamic modeling that makes use of complex – and very distinctive – aerofoil cross-sections in the carbon fiber frame and forks, while weighing in at as little as 6.75 kg. Slick in more than just looks!  Read More

Minix wing tip device promises 6% gain in fuel efficiency for airliners

Fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are huge priorities in the aviation industry – passenger airliners chew through amazing quantities of fuel. Take the Boeing 747, which guzzles somewhere around a gallon of jet fuel per second – it's clear that a percentile improvement in fuel consumption can make a huge difference to costs at the end of a long-haul flight. That's why the Minix wing tip deserves close scrutiny. It replaces the tilted winglets at the tip of an aircraft wing, can be retrofitted to any airplane, and smooths out the wing-tip vortex, reducing the aircraft's wing drag. Minix claims the design is five times more effective than a regular winglet and can save as much as 6% on an aircraft's energy costs. For a commercial Boeing 747, that equates to a saving of around 600,000 gallons of fuel per year, per aircraft. Food for thought.  Read More

A still from the just-released video of the ornithopter in action

Last year, we brought you the story of tech company AeroVironment’s life-size artificial hummingbird, that flies solely by flapping its wings. Now, a group of Japanese researchers has successfully built and flown a flapping-wing-powered swallowtail butterfly. Besides looking incredibly cool, the life-size “ornithopter” has also proven a principle that could have big implications in the field of aerodynamics.  Read More

Laval University's 2,487.5mpg NTF 4.0, crossing the finish line at the 2010 Shell Eco-Mara...

The NTF 4.0, a car built by a team of students from Laval University in Quebec, Canada, achieved an astonishing 2,487.5 mpg (US) a week ago at the 2010 Shell Eco-Marathon Americas in Houson, Texas. The feat earned the team the $US5,000 grand prize in the Prototype category, in which fuel-efficiency can be achieved through designs that are... well, that are as radically streamlined and lightweight as possible, really. The combustion-engined NTF (any ideas what that stands for?) was by no means the only impressive vehicle at the event, however.  Read More

Chevrolet's non-hybrid Cruze Eco promises 40mpg highway, comparable to the hybrid Honda In...

Next week at the 2010 New York Auto Show, Chevrolet will be unveiling the compact 2011 Cruze Eco. Visually, this car isn’t going to be big news – it’s OK, but nothing you haven’t seen before. With a six-speed manual transmission, however, it should achieve an estimated 40mpg on the highway – what Chevrolet calls “hybrid-like” fuel efficiency. With that kind of mileage, but without a hybrid’s complexity or price tag, the Eco could prove pretty popular. By comparison, the hybrid Toyota Prius and Honda Insight get 49 and 43mpg highway, respectively, while the non-hybrid Honda Civic sedan gets 34.  Read More

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