America Developing ‘Transformer’ Military Drones that Changes Shape Mid-Flight – Defenseworld.net
Wings on fixed-wing small unmanned aerial systems, like the RQ-20A Puma, launched by Soldiers could soon have improved designs owing the tool designed by Army researchers.
Some of the cool concepts that we see in Hollywood movies may soon be a reality with US Army Researchers working on autonomous air vehicles that can change shape mid-flight.
On June 16, researchers with the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory and Texas A&M University published findings of a two-year study in fluid-structure interaction.
Their research led to a tool, which will be able to rapidly optimize the structural configuration for Future Vertical Lift vehicles while properly accounting for the interaction between air and the structure. Within the next year, this tool will be used to develop and rapidly optimize Future Vertical Lift vehicles capable of changing shape during flight, thereby optimizing performance of the vehicle through different phases of flight.
“Consider an [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] mission where the vehicle needs to get quickly to station, or dash, and then attempt to stay on station for as long as possible, or loiter,” said Dr. Francis Phillips, an aerospace engineer at the laboratory. “During dash segments, short wings are desirable in order to go fast and be more maneuverable, but for loiter segments, long wings are desirable in order to enable low power, high endurance flight.”