The Practicality of Ornithopter Drones in 2020

Ornithopters first came into being in ancient times. But today, drone makers are inspired to look into the practicality of coming up with ornithopter drones.

An ornithopter is a machine machine designed to fly by the flapping of its wings in imitation of birds. The wooden bird said to have been made about 400 BC by Archytas of Tarentum is one of the earliest examples.[…] Although a few short flights have been recorded, ornithopters remain impractical, according to Britannica.com article. Read the article here.

However, in recent years, and especially in 2020, drone makers are making use of the aerodynamics design of an ornithopter for their drones. One research shows the history of ornithopters, including its place in present drone manufacturing.

Here is an excerpt from the research paper:

One of the principal advantages of an ornithopter as an unmanned aerial system, especially one used for surveillance purposes, is the low aeroacoustic signature of such an aircraft (DeLaurier & Harris, 1993). Compared with fmed-wing, propeller-driven aircraft, and even those with high-efficiency, slowly rotating propellers, omithopters have the potential to be the quietest of any aircraft design (DeLaurier & Harris, 1993). In addition to low audio profiles, ornithopters are inherently well suited to small scale aerial vehicles because of their aerodynamic properties.

This year started with the entrance of an ornithopter into the scene: the PigeonBot, a new UAV designed to soar like a real-life pigeon using bird-like feathered wings. Developed by a team of researchers at Stanford University, the experimental drone boasts a pair of “biohybrid morphing wings” which are constructed from real feathers and help to propel the device through the skies. – Read more of this article.

In July, another bird-like drone with flapping wings was introduced by a group of roboticists from Singapore, Australia, China, and Taiwan in Science Robotics.

One reason that making a flapping-wing robot is difficult is because the wings have to move back and forth at high speed while electric motors spin around and around at high speed. […]The researchers’ new ornithopter design mitigates the flexing problem using hinges and bearings in pairs. – Read more here.

One article describes why ornithopters drones are found to be real practical these days.

Ornithopters fly differently to conventional drones. They can glide, hover, and perform aerobatics. In different situations, they can either save energy by flying like a regular aeroplane or choose to hover. They can take off and land slowly in tight spaces, yet might quickly soar upwards to perch like a bird. – Read full article here. See also: Innovative Drone Takes Its Inspiration from Mother Nature

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