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Feb 2, 2020

Researchers develop new bio-inspired wing design for small drones

Posted by in category: drones

Researchers from Brown University have designed a new type of wing that could make small fixed-wing drones far more stable and efficient.

The new replaces the smooth contour found on the leading edges of most airplane wings with a thick flat plate and a sharp leading edge. Counterintuitive as it may seem, it turns out that the design has distinct aerodynamic advantages at the scale of small drones. In a paper published in Science Robotics, the researchers show that the new wing is far more stable than standard wings in the face of sudden gusts and other types of turbulence, which often wreak havoc on . The wing also provides an aerodynamically efficient flight that translates into better battery life and longer flight times.

“Small drones can be really useful in many applications, including flights in populated areas as they are inherently safer for humans, but there are problems operating aircraft at those small scales,” said Kenny Breuer, a professor in Brown’s School of Engineering and the study’s senior author. “They tend to be inefficient, which limits the battery-powered flight times of most drones to around 30 minutes or so. They also tend to get blown around by puffs of wind and turbulent air coming from obstacles such as buildings and trees. So we’ve been thinking about a that might combat those problems.”

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