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— Drones

Bird-inspired self-folding wings could help drones recover from collisions

If you've ever watched a flying bird weaving its way through a forest, you may have wondered how it could do so without hitting its wings on the trees. Well, birds actually do hit trees with their wings. Unlike the rigid wings of an aircraft, however, birds' wings simply fold back under impact, then immediately fold open again to maintain flight. Now, scientists from Stanford University have developed wings for flapping-wing drones that do the same thing. Read More
— Sports

WingBoarding: An extreme aerial sport inspired by a Disney cartoon

Technological advances haven't just led to more comfortable homes and more productive workplaces, they've also provided thrillseekers with new and inventive ways to get the adrenalin pumping, with Wakeboarding (now possible without a boat), skydiving and wingsuit flying just some examples of extreme sports enabled by modern technology. Now Aaron Wypyszynski, founder of Alabama-based Wyp Aviation, is looking to combine elements of these three sports in WingBoarding, which would see a rider towed behind a plane atop a winged board – yes, seriously. Read More
— Aircraft

Robotic raptors look and fly like the real thing

Birds that stray into the paths of aircraft, eat crops, or spread disease from foraging in large numbers at landfills are, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, downright dangerous. Over the years people have tried everything from scaring them away with loud noises to trapping them – all with varying results. Now a designer from the Netherlands has come up with robotic birds of prey that look and fly exactly like the real thing. Read More
— Aircraft

FlexFoil aims to seamlessly boost airplanes' fuel efficiency

If there's one thing that needs to be aerodynamic, it's an airplane wing. Conventional wing designs however, suffer from a glaring weakness in this respect: the joint where the main wing meets the trailing flaps. Michigan-based FlexSys has developed a way to optimize wing aerodynamics with FlexFoil, a seamless variable geometry airfoil system that could deliver fuel savings of up to 12 percent. Read More
— Environment

Delft explores kite power for rural Africa

The University of Delft has a program devoted to kite-based generation systems, with 20 years of research and development under their belt since Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutch astronaut established it. Now, members of the team are exploring practical niches where the compromises of kite-based power might pay off. One has just completed a trip through Kenya, Tanzania and Senegal discussing opportunities for rural African kite generation with governmental agencies, universities and companies in the renewables space. Read More
— Aircraft

Morphing leading edge reduces drag and noise in takeoff and landing

Passengers looking out the window of a passenger plane will likely have noticed slats on the leading edge of the wing, along with the flaps on the trailing edge of the wing, being extended during takeoff and landing. These leading edge slats provide the lift necessary at low speeds, with the gap between the wing and the slats directing air from the underside of the wing to the top. Unfortunately, this gap also generates a lot of noise. A team of researchers has now developed a morphing leading edge that eliminates the gap and reduces noise and drag during landing. Read More
— Aircraft

World's first hummingbird-like unmanned aircraft system takes flight

AeroVironment, the California-based company behind the largest, highest and longest flying unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the Global Observer, has now achieved a remarkable technical milestone with a much smaller aircraft. With its "Nano Hummingbird" the company has for the first time achieved controlled precision hovering and fast-forward flight of a two-wing, flapping wing aircraft that carries its own energy source and relies only on its flapping wings for propulsion and control. Read More
— Aircraft

DEMON UAV achieves historic first 'flapless flight'

An unmanned aerial vehicle named DEMON made history last month when it demonstrated “flapless flight” at an airfield in Cumbria, England. The demonstrator aircraft’s ailerons/elevators were locked off, allowing it to maneuver using nothing but a series of forced-air jets along the trailing edges of its wings. In the future, such technology could benefit military or commercial aircraft because of fewer moving parts, less maintenance and a stealthier profile. Read More