Wednesday, April 04, 2007
New generation: Planes with Shape-Changing. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have been evolving. From the slow and bulky flying boxes, they have improved to become much smaller and quieter. Now, there's a new proposed version of it: A fast, swift and agile plane that mimics that of birds and sea gulls. It ranges from 15cm long to 60cm. Its capabilities would include that of 'diving in between buildings, zoom under overpasses and land on apartment balconies' which often requires 'sharp turns, spins and dives'. This can be achieved by changing the shape of the wings. There were a few prototypes that were done to produce these effects, the latest having the wings capable of being transformed from down to up position. This is modeled after the sea gulls, and the prototype was capable of making that transformation in just 12 seconds. Such transformation is assisted by motors and supported by metal rods, which allows the plane to be used suitably in city landscape. Current research now stands at improving the ease of flying such planes. This morphing plane loses stability when it is in a high maneuverability mode. Ultimate aim however would be focused on making such planes autonomous. Such planes would be useful in the military or police or the fire and bomb-removal departments, or in cases like 24-hour surveillance for security purposes or that of monitoring potential problems in hazardous plants like nuclear power plant or oil refinery plants, etc.