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NASA and MIT want airplanes that fly more like birds



Photos: NASA

Each separate aircraft that you have ever flew, used mechanical pieces of metal and composites on the hinges to turn this the way and what, here and there. The true dream is to fly in heaven, like a damned bird, bending and twisting its wings, as God has appointed. Except for very few planes ̵

1; the original Wright Flyer – it was too difficult, too expensive, too impossible. If NASA and MIT are not on their way.

The problem with how most planes are now changing the direction is not very good, good. I mean, it's good that it works technically, your aircraft actually changes direction, but it's not a big deal in terms of efficiency. The base of the wings is tough, and although there are changes made with valves and elevators and elephants, the wing is never really optimized for flight conditions – just a happy compromise has been found.

Visualization showing the potential redesign of aircraft with new technologies, collected by orange robots.
Image: NASA

But NASA and MIT have offered something new that is actually a pretty old concept, namely, flexible wings. Wings where the whole surface can be distorted and deformed according to the travel needs. Here's what MIT predicted:

The new assembly system allows you to deform all the wing or its parts by incorporating a mixture of rigid and flexible components into its structure. The tiny knots, connected with each other, form an open, lightweight lattice frame, then coated with a thin layer of similar polymeric material, like a skeleton.

The result is a wing that is much lighter and, consequently, much more energy. are more effective than those with conventional designs made of metal or composites, say researchers. Since the design, consisting of thousands of tiny triangles of such racks, consists mainly of empty space, it forms a mechanical "metamaterial" that combines the structural stiffness of a gum-like polymer and extraordinary ease and low density of an aerogel

Photos: NASA

And best of all, NASA and MIT engineers have found a way to do this automatically. The new wing was developed with a self-regulating, passive wing restructuring system that does not require additional engines or human inputs so that it can work.

If this sounds familiar, well it is. Empty wings that can be constantly distorted to make them more effective for moving through changing air conditions? This is basically what birds do. This is the same concept that was used by the first aircraft, except that it was easier when airplanes were built from nothing but wood and fabric. It's a lot harder when your entire aircraft is made of hard aluminum and steel, as airplanes began to become in the first decades after they began to fly. And although the idea of ​​a metal plane is much better than made from wood, for many reasons, it did not help engineers who have never abandoned the idea of ​​a twisting wing.

however, with moving wings, because these static metal pipes are still not the peak of optimization of the flight. Her deformation program reaches at least 1996. They checked what they called "high-tech adaptation of the elementary approach to airplanes control of the brothers Wright" – an active aerosocial wing. The initial study was designed to investigate the control of a mobile vehicle by twisting the wing of F / A-18A.

Active aeroplane wing.
Photo: NASA

The results were promising. The more flexible wing has reduced rolling speed and kept the plane more stable than it was with a stronger wing. However, this technology still depended on many ailerons, or hinges at the very end of the wing, which can be adjusted up or down to provide control. this study: how to construct a wing without of all these complicated mechanical discharges. In general, instead of permanently equipping the existing plane with new wings, how can NASA develop the entire plane around the concept of flexible wings? The answer to this question is the proposal that you read here.

The research has the potential not only to optimize the flight process, but also to optimize the production process. According to MIT, new technologies encourage the development of small units, not giant wings, and this requires much less material than the current design. Material costs may decrease as a result

But let's talk about the real benefits in one second.
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