- the smart shirt
- PREDICTING EARTHQUAKES FROM SPACE
- THE SAFER BARRIER
- MICROSCOPIC WIRES DETECT CANCERS
- DETECTING "DIRTY BOMBS"
- MINI-ROBOT RECONNAISSANCE TEAM
- CLEANER WATER THROUGH NEW TREATMENT TECHNOLOGY
- A BETTER HEARING AID MODELED ON A FLY'S EAR
- CHEAP, CLEAN, RENEWABLE NON-POLLUTING FUEL FROM PLANT WASTES AND UNIVERSITY SCIENCE
- FUELING THE CLEAN CAR
- RESTORING SIGHT IN BLIND PATIENTS
- SPY PLANES THAT FLY ON WINGS OF SEAGULLS
- SOLAR ENERGY FROM THE WINDY CITY
- TINY PARTICLES DELIVER CURES
- THE HANDYLAB--INSTANT DNA TESTING
SPY PLANES THAT FLY ON WINGS OF SEAGULLS
The U.S. Air Force’s drones are unmanned spy planes that soar above the countryside, shoot surveillance images and sometimes also fire missiles. Now, a new kind of drone is in the works that can function in tough urban environments—and it’s being designed by academic researchers who are studying seagulls.
With funding from the Air Force and NASA, engineers at the University of Florida at Gainesville are designing prototypes for miniature urban drones—six-inch to two-foot planes that can dive between buildings, zoom under overpasses, and even land on apartment balconies. These pilotless planes could be equipped with sensors to detect biological or chemical weapons, so that they could look into buildings where terrorists may be making or storing these weapons. “If the vehicle can search an area by itself, you can have almost instantaneous response to what’s being threatened,” explained Rick Lind, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Florida.
This new generation of drones could hover, dive and climb rapidly, with wings that can change their directions and even their shapes—in other words, “morphing.” The engineers at the University of Florida learned how to design wings that can morph by watching how seagulls change the shapes of their wings.