TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A team from Taiwan’s prestigious National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) is behind the development of a new drone prototype that mimics the movement of the world’s fastest bird – the swift.
Dubbed the “flapping wing drone,” the ornithopter is touted as being able to “hover, dart, glide, brake and dive” like a swift, according to a press release by the University of South Australia. These traits make it more versatile than a quadcopter drone.
This invention is a joint effort of aerospace engineers from Taiwan, Singapore, and South Australia, with the relevant study being published in Science Robotics on Wednesday (July 22). The biologically inspired drone can fly in cluttered environments near humans without causing much interference.
The purpose of this research project is to develop an aerial vehicle that hovers at low power but generates thrust as a propeller does, said Lau Gih-keong (劉義強), associate professor at the NCTU Mechanical Engineering Department. The optimized mechatronic bird is so agile that it can stop quickly at high speeds and avoid collisions, UDN quoted him as saying.
According to Lau, applications for the new drone include safer and inconspicuous surveillance, pest control, and aircraft bird strike prevention. The flapping wing drones can also be employed to conduct pollination at indoor vertical farms, mitigating the risk of damaging vegetation as rotary-propelled quadcopters often do.
Flapping wing drone prototype (NCTU Assistant Professor Lau Gih-keong photos)