So far, the wonderful world of biomimicry has brought us everything from cheetah-bots to robotic sea turtles.
And now birds and bats are helping to inspire the drones of the future too.
Thanks to Mother Nature’s clever design, birds have pretty much mastered the art of flying. And by imitating the wing anatomy of these aerial acrobats, engineers have now developed biomimetic wings with some rather remarkable abilities.
Intrigued? Then read on as we take a closer look at this innovative feat of engineering.
Fly Like A Bird
When soaring through the skies, there’s very little room for error and even the smallest mistake could result in disaster.
But now, researchers have developed incredibly flexible biomimetic wings that can survive a collision and keep on flapping!
These wondrous wings work by mimicking the way that birds fold and flap their wings.
If you’ve ever wondered what the secret is behind a bird’s wing-folding abilities. It turns out this is made possible due to a special wrist joint hidden beneath their feathers.
This allows them to fold the tips of their wings, so they can tuck these in when navigating in and around narrow spaces.
It’s this amazing ability that allows birds to avoid injuries from accidental collisions too!
The engineers mimicked the design of this wrist joint to produce a 3D-printed hinge of their own. They then incorporated this into a carbon fibre frame, covered with a thin, plastic film membrane – which was itself inspired by the wings of a bat.
When struck with a steel rod – a test designed to simulate the wing colliding with a branch during flight – these wings are able to absorb the impact by folding inwards. And that’s not all, the wings are able to recover quickly too and unfold once again, all within one beat!
What’s most exciting about these new wings is that they don’t require the use of sensors or motors either. They’re able to adjust to accommodate obstacles entirely passively. As such, they’re an elegant solution to what was once considered to be a very complex problem!
What Could It Be Used For?
It’s hoped that these wings could help revolutionise the design of unmanned vehicles such as flying drones. This would enable them to carry out missions in environments that are tough to navigate, such as dense forest. And that’s not all, as this development could also enable researchers to create winged drones that are much more robust too!
This latest foray into the field of biomimetics demonstrates once again what a fantastic source of inspiration the natural world can be.
As leading manufacturers of a range of spring products, including torsion springs, here at Airedale Springs we know a thing or two about design and engineering. And we like to think that all our springs are an innovation too.
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