Almost a century back, when Wright Brothers carried out their first flight and controlled the Flyer 1 movement with pulleys and wires that were able to twist and bent its canvas-and-wood wings, the system was very distinct and different than the one used in regular aircrafts. A team of engineers working in NASA and MIT recently came up with a similar design that takes back the complete story back to its roots. The new kind of wing design has been named as “morphing” wings.
It is being said that the architecture of these wings will simplify the complicated manufacturing process and bring down fuel consumption by imparting better aerodynamics to wings and strengthening their agility. It is derived from a framework of lightweight small-sized subunits that can be assembled via a specialized team of robots. This can be used in making of a complete airframe. These wings will be covered with a “skin” or membrane construed from overlapped pieces that resemble feathers or scales.
Researchers have been trying hard for so many years to find a reliable way to give a deformed structure to wings that can replace the conventional, distinctly moving surfaces, however, all efforts till date had very less impact till date. The director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), Neil gershenfeld, says, “We make the whole wing the mechanism. It’s not something we put into the wing.” The biggest challenge they faced in this regard was that most efforts depended on the deformation of wing through implication of mechanical control structures inside the wing. These structures resulted to be so heavy that it canceled away all efficiency benefits that were expected to come by smoother aerodynamic surfaces. The new approach of this team gives the wing freedom to change its complete shape and twist evenly along its length. This is done through activation of two small motors that apply a twisting pressure over every single wingtip
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