Military Review

US military needs drones that flap their wings more actively

The Nano Air Vehicle program has entered the third phase, which provides for detailed studies of new flight types for drones in the 2013 year. In particular, the “flapping wing” will be explored. In other words, the military needs UAV-ornithopters who mimic like birds.

Army needs UAVs that are not just like birds, they need to be able to fly as quietly and as maneuverable as real birds, that is, ornithopters. Can engineers solve technical difficulties?

US military needs drones that flap their wings more actively

Zhukovsky also claimed that, by definition, a flapping wing is by definition a much greater lift than a fixed one. But he also added that calculating its aerodynamics is much more difficult. But for small UAVs, the transition to this principle is inevitable. In order to hover in the air and then continue to move forward, aircrafts equipped with helicopter screws are now used. And their fuel efficiency is much worse than that of the aircraft, not to mention the ornithopters. Like all energy-efficient processes, flying such drones will be accompanied by a rather loud sound, which means that they are not suitable for unobtrusive army intelligence.

And one of the important obstacles for ornithopters is the high rigidity of the wing with a relatively small mass, which, in principle, is not a problem for micro-UAVs due to its small size and low enough requirements for rigidity. That is how the development of "Hummingbird" from the company Aerovironment. Hummingbirds in the name is not just - diving, this small bird can fly up to 400 length of its body in a second. It can fly back without turning, and has the highest speed of air braking, both among natural and artificial flyers. In Hummingbird, the weight and wingspan will be 19 and 16.5, respectively. The weight includes the weight of all flight systems, as well as an optional fairing similar to the hummingbird body, which should give the device similarity to the bird of the same name. Naturally, the average hummingbird is somewhat smaller, but everything is dictated by lithium-ion batteries, which are not found in nature, which makes it necessary to make the drone heavier.

The aircraft can quickly accelerate and stop, as well as fly backward without turning the body. At the same time he broadcasts video using the built-in camera. Moreover, the drone can hang for two minutes with a side wind 2.1 m / s, practically without demolition. It can fly through doors at maximum speed in 18 km / h.

But in terms of miniature and stealth, it is still far from real hummingbirds. For example, the smallest hummingbird leads the entire 2 gram (Cuban variety), which is much less than the mass of a drone. Also, the time of the drone's flight without recharging is lame: 8 minutes with active maneuvering, 20 minutes, if you “hang” on the spot. All this is due to the small capacity of the batteries. But not only, gigantic hummingbirds are migratory birds that change climatic zones without stopping and "refueling". It is clear that she would not be able to do this if it were as energy-consuming as the drone using her platform. To resolve the issue, Hummingbird want to provide the ability to refuel in the air.

However, it is worth noting that the mentioned Hummingbird LTHs are demos, so they can grow as part of a constantly evolving military program. If we consider information from sources in this industry, it states that the military already have several proposals for alternative UAVs from other companies that use alternative approaches to solve the problem of the flapping wing of microdrones.

Prepared by materials Computerra – Online и Wired.
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  1. itr
    itr April 4 2012 09: 00
    In my installation!
  2. cvx
    cvx April 4 2012 09: 16
    I understand that this program is based on nanotechnology. This film must be shown to Chubais.
  3. vovan100
    vovan100 April 4 2012 09: 42
    without recharging in the air, it will be a toy for a long time
    1. beech
      beech April 4 2012 22: 16
      why are they doing this garbage, it would be better if they did normal planes and tanks. These drones are of course priority things, but their time has not come yet
      1. Darn
        Darn April 5 2012 09: 52
        Here in such a trifle it seems, at least 10 discoveries, and new inventions. Which will form the basis of new products. I’m interested in this little bird as small as it will protect itself from cats. It will be a shame
        They did, they did, and all the work to kat under the tail. Probably a bird, it will scare cats with ultrasound.
  4. Tyumen
    Tyumen April 4 2012 11: 41
    And how many shotguns do we have in our hands? laughing
    Yes, and the hunting season for the pen can enter year-round.
  5. 755962
    755962 April 4 2012 14: 04
    An amusing little thing, I will wait when it appears in a toy store.
    DEMENTIY April 4 2012 16: 24
    Also promising!?.
  7. PabloMsk
    PabloMsk April 4 2012 18: 05
    These systems are developed by several groups.
    And the implementation of all of them is amazing!
    Ingenious developments and even scary to think that of these developments can grow ....
    Groups of such drones will be terrible rivals .....
  8. Flanker
    Flanker April 4 2012 23: 14
    Laughter, laughter, but there really is something to ponder. In the case of implementation - a very good help for tactical groups. A miniature flying scout, and even maneuverable, can be very useful. And copying technology from nature is one of the surest ways to achieve success. The main thing is to have the mind to realize.
  9. 916-th
    916-th April 5 2012 06: 19
    This is a real breakthrough for tomorrow. Unfortunately not ours ...
  10. Leonid94
    Leonid94 April 5 2012 12: 56
    By the way, drones are a good idea. Everything is better than a soldier.
  11. dred
    dred April 5 2012 12: 58
    Quote: 916
    This is a real breakthrough for tomorrow. Unfortunately not ours ...

    We probably also have operating experience.
    1. PabloMsk
      PabloMsk April 6 2012 14: 19

      We don't have any "developments" :)
      If only one of the students of technical universities is not indulging, looking at the published materials.

      There is nothing complicated in these systems - materials are not a question, ready-made models are sold in stores :)
      Programming is also not a great topic for smart guys.

      The trend is important here.
      He was noticed and realized its importance.
  12. Gonoriy
    Gonoriy 7 February 2015 13: 51
    But hummingbirds do not live on the entire planet. For example, in Iraq, such a drone will cause at least surprise among the Arabs.