Bug-sized spy planes may sound like science fiction, but alumnus Ryan George's research has helped our progress towards making them a reality.
Bug-sized spy planes may sound like science fiction, but alumnus Ryan George's research has helped our progress towards making them a reality. With Professor Scott Thomson, George researched the wing movements of ladybugs to try and create micro-air vehicles.
Hoping Mother Nature can teach modern technology a thing or two about flight, George used a camera with a shutter speed of 5000 frames per second to analyze the exact movements of a ladybug in flight. This information continues to inform the design of a flapping-wing micro-air vehicle.
George and other researchers assume that natural selection has already optimized the flying capabilities of beetles for an object of such small size. Beetles are considered ideal for this particular project because they have forewings for protection and hindwings for flight. With the prospect of being ejected out of an airplane, these vehicles could use a protective shell. The flapping nature of beetle wings also allows for better maneuvering and slower speeds than fixed-wing vehicles.
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