The smallest monocopter built by Ulrich to-date, with a maximum dimension of 95mm and a wing equal in size to a natural samara (Photo: Evan Ulrich/A. James Clark School of Engineering, U-Md.)
Students at the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering have turned to nature to create a flying device that can hover and perform surveillance duties, and that could lead to applications for military and emergency services. The enigmatic maple tree seeds (or samara fruit) - and the unique spiraling pattern with which they glide to the ground - have intrigued children and engineers for decades. Now aerospace engineering graduate students have applied the seeds’ design to airborne devices and created what they believe to be the world's smallest controllable single-winged rotocraft.