UAS Evolution: Morphing in the Air
David Hambling tells the tale as reported in New Scientist: “A shape-shifting drone takes off like a helicopter and transforms into a plane in mid-air to fly all day on solar power. The drone is designed to provide affordable aerial surveys for farmers, so they can see where to irrigate and use fertilizer… Most drones are not appropriate for this because they have short flight times. Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos and his team at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have therefore taken a new approach.
“The Solar Unmanned Air Vehicle: Quad (SUAV:Q) takes off vertically before unfolding with the help of lightweight powered hinges into a flat, winged aircraft. Its design makes it easier to launch than a fixed-wing drone, and means it can also hover during flight to get a stable view of the land below. It morphs back into the quadcopter formation to land vertically.”
“The idea is that anybody can buy this and carry it around in their pickup truck,” says Papanikolopoulos.”