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Wings that can vary their shapes as freely as birds’ wings could have advantages for small aircraft in built environments, a new study led by engineers at the University of Michigan suggests. In a collaboration with the University of British Columbia and Utah State University, the team found that wings that can morph in continuous 3D shapes could help keep drones stable in gusts of wind and perhaps help them land in tighter spaces.
“These are just two uses that we identified, but another part that makes me really excited is that, as in birds, one 3D morphing wing can accomplish a wide variety of tasks,” said Christina Harvey, a PhD student in aerospace engineering at U-M and first author of the paper in The Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
“The fact that only two joints allow such a wide range of control is promising for aircraft design.”