Wissa's bird-inspired research gains industry attention
Despite the many design improvements being made as industry strives to implement drone-based applications, even the most advanced drones simply don’t have the agility and grace that comes so naturally to birds.
Some researchers are working to change that. They’re developing bird-inspired Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), the more formal name for unmanned aircraft, complete with adaptive wing structures for enhanced maneuverability and efficiency. They want these UAS to not only feel the environmental conditions around them, but to respond to those conditions—making them even better equipped for commercial applications ranging from crop monitoring to search and rescue.
“We think nature offers a lot of solutions to current engineering problems,” said Aimy Wissa, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. “The same UAS can’t perform all the tasks a bird can, including taking off, hovering, perching, landing and cruising. Birds can do all these things efficiently, where UAS are based on point design. They’re good at one thing but not the other. That’s the reason we work on adaptive structures.”