Winged drones are more aerodynamically and energetically efficient than common multi-rotor-driven drones, but they require more space to make turns, leading to their limited use in dense environments such as cities.
A recent paper published in Nature communications engineering shows that researchers have developed a bird-like winged drone that can make sharp turns to avoid obstacles in dense urban and forest environments.
This type of drone is made of fiber-reinforced plastic, has a maximum wingspan of 1.5 meters and weighs 711 grams.
It has two wings, a tail, a bird-like appearance, and artificial feathers that can be retracted and tilted.
The researchers conducted wind tunnel and flight tests to assess the effect of wing and tail motion on the UAV’s rollable speed and required turning area.
They found that the UAV could roll up to four times faster when tilting each wing at a different angle than when the wings were tilted at the same angle but extended on one side and retracted on the other.
By extending the wings and tail outward, the drone can turn with a radius of 4.9 meters, compared to 12.1 meters when the wings and tail are tucked in.
The drone is able to make sharp turns and can fly in dense environments.
The researchers say this research will help develop new winged UAVs capable of long-distance flight in both open and dense environments.