Invention: Flexible wings
Micro air vehicles with wingspans of less than 20 centimetres are of huge interest at the moment because they can easily carry small payloads such as cameras and microphones over battlefields, disaster zones, and other areas of interest.
But because these aircraft are light, they are also vulnerable to gusts of wind that can fling them off course and disrupt any observations they may be making.
Now, Peter Ifju, an aerospace engineer at the University of Florida, US, and colleagues have developed an aerofoil, or wing shape, that flexes in the wind in response to gusts of wind.
In such a gust, the leading edge of each wing warps to reduce its angle of attack and keep itself pointing into the wind. This flexing can be controlled in such a way that the wing maintains level flight during gusts of wind, Ifju says, and the result should be a smoother ride in blustery conditions.
Read the full flexible wings patent application.