Researchers from Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) just wanted to take the drones' aerodynamics to a next level and came up with a new design. An inspirational one with wings, based on a particular species called northern ghost hawk.
Drones are everywhere, there is no escaping from them. Need a cool top view photo? Ask for a drone. Need to place sensors in unreachable places? Use a drone.
The new drone is expected to fly much longer than a quadrotor of the same weight, thanks to its morphing tail and wings.
"Here, we show that this morphing strategy and the synergy of the two morphing surfaces can notably improve the agility, maneuverability, stability, flight speed range, and required power of a drone in different flight regimes by means of an avian-inspired drone," the study reads.
The design is made of artificial feathers along with wings and tails that are able to extend. So instead of a stiff quadrotor having difficulty in hairpin turns, the raptor-inspired drone is much more successful completing a route that needs to get it fast.
Also, morphing capabilities allow the birdy drone to adapt the shape of the aircraft to different flight situations. Gaining speed faster than a quadrotor, the design could avoid obstacles and fly in cluttered environments such as forests and cities.
Contrary to real birds, it has a propeller in the front and no flapping wings. It uses as little energy as possible, retracting the wings and tail.
The design currently can prove even more essential than the ones we have witnessed this year, which delivered vital supplies in emergencies.
In the long run, the researchers state that it could be applied to other types of aircraft which use a front propeller to achieve much higher agility.