Breakthrough In Aviation Technology

Innovation December 19, 2016

If you remember anything from your school days about the history of flight, you may well recall that for as long as man has been attempting to fly, most of the efforts and focus has been on modeling the structure and actions of living birds. Now, what looks to be nothing less than a major technological breakthrough, researchers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have produced the world’s first aircraft with wing properties more like those of birds.

Understand that this experimental aircraft is technically classified as as a micro-aircraft. All that means is that the actual aircraft itself has a wingspan of but a mere 50 cm and a total weight of less than 100 grams. The micro-aircraft constructed by aerospace engineers at Delft University is named the RoboSwift. As you might well imagine, that name was deliberately chosen as the bird known as the Swift is the inspiration for the design of this micro-aircraft.

Get this: recent wind tunnel tests have clearly demonstrated that the RoboSwift performs remarkably similar to that of the actual bird itself. Take note of the fact that the RoboSwift is engineered such that the micro-aircraft steers by sweeping back one wing more so than the other. More importantly, understand that this method of steering means that without question, the RoboSwift can and does make extremely sharp turns.

A bit more about the actual construction of the RoboSwift. In its current form, the RoboSwift is significantly smaller than traditional model airplanes. The RoboSwift is constructed with a diminutive electric motor and propeller that is used to gain elevation. Once in the air, if desired, the motor can be turned off and the propeller folded up so that the flight of the RoboSwift is extraordinarily quiet as well as efficient.

Interestingly, the engineering students based their work on the RoboSwift from a study published in the journal Nature which examined the rather unique aerodynamic properties of the the bird itself. For the record, that article was authored by David Lentink of Wageningen University who serves as the students supervisor.

As you can plainly see from the above, the RoboSwift may turn out to be the next step forward for aviation. As currently envisioned, the aviation technology showcased by the RoboSwift has numerous uses by law enforcement officials. Note that none other than the National Police Services Agency is supporting further development of the RoboSwift.

That being said, it is no big stretch to suppose that this is an advance in aviation technology that will most likely show up in other applications.

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