21 October 2009

Yeah UMD Engineering!

Spiraling Flight of Maple Tree Seeds Inspires New Surveillance Technology

College Park, MD — Maple tree seeds (or samara fruit) and the spiraling pattern in which they glide to the ground have delighted children for ages and perplexed engineers for decades. Now aerospace engineering graduate students at the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering have learned how to apply the seeds’ unique design to devices that can hover and perform surveillance in defense and emergency situations. [...]

The Clark School students have solved the steering problem and provided a solution that allows the device to take off from the ground and hover, as well as perform controlled flight after its initial fall to the ground after being deployed from an aircraft. The device can also begin to hover during its initial descent, or after being launched by hand.
Well done. I'm not sure why you'd want a spinning surveillance drone with only one wing, but well done nonetheless.

The project web page is here, complete with a video of the little whirligig in action.

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