Inspired by birds and insects, researchers have developed a new type of wing that could significantly improve the performance of small drones. The foreedge of this wing seems to cause turbulence, contrary to intuition. However, the new wing design actually improves the ability of small drones to fly in sudden gusts and other turbulence.
Unlike aircraft wings, which are usually smooth and round front surfaces, the design now has a sharp, flat edge that forces the air that hits the wing to suddenly separate. The researchers believe that this separation of air currents poses efficiency problems for large aircraft, but in reality it is an advantage for small flying devices, whether they are birds or man-made aircraft.
This design separates the air flow at the front of the wing, effectively causing more air flow to attach to the rear of the wing, thus improving the flight efficiency of small aircraft with a wingspan of less than 1 foot (30 cm). Another advantage of this wing design, the researchers say, is that they can be thicker and stronger than conventional wings. This means that they can potentially accommodate the drone components, giving the drone greater flexibility in its overall design, potentially reducing or even eliminating the fuselage.
The team’s findings have been published in the journal Science Robotics.