Mini choppers inspired by spinning seeds could soon be a reality

Written by: Ani
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London, Jan 29 (ANI): Technology gets inspiration from nature very often - and a new study is just another example of that - a mini helicopter that mimics flying tree seeds.

Standard mini helicopters expend most of their power simply fighting to stay stable in the air, leading researchers at the University of Maryland in College Park to hypothesize that a simpler aircraft designed to stay stable passively would use much less power and cut manufacturing costs.

However, this concept is already implemented in nature - samara seeds of trees such as the maple have a single-blade structure that allows them to fly far away and drift safely to the ground.

And they simply use a process called autorotation to spin through the air.

The idea that Evan Ulrich applied was that both natural and robotic samaras travel in a fixed circle whose radius is determined by the pitch of the wing.

"We can change the size of the circle the vehicle is travelling in and pilot the aircraft to any desired destination," New Scientist quoted him as saying.

"It can potentially compete with satellites," he added.

"A larger robotic samara would be deployed into the jet stream and be able to use the fast-moving air to stay aloft," Ulrich said.

"The samara concept is an interesting one, which has merit in terms of its size and mass," said Stephen Prior, a researcher in autonomous robotic systems at Middlesex University in London.

"However, like most nano air vehicles it suffers from lack of endurance and the difficulty of getting a stable image off the platform, since it is continuously spinning." (ANI)

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