Australian researchers have, by studying feathers, developed a system which could end turbulence on flights.
Researchers from RMIT University’s Unmanned Systems Research Team have lodged a provisional patent on the system, which mimics the way feathers help birds detect disturbances in the air.
Watch the system explained here:
Simon Watkins, the research supervisor, says flight testing on a micro plane showed the system significantly reduced the effects of turbulence.
“By sensing gusts and disturbances in air flow through their feathers, birds are able to fly gracefully rather than bouncing around in turbulent air,” Professor Watkins says.
“The system we have developed replicates this natural technology, with the aim of enabling planes to fly smoothly through even severe turbulence – just like birds.”
The system is based on the concept of phase-advanced sensing, in which flow disturbance is sensed before it results in aircraft movement.
This can be achieved by early sensing of the pressures from gust effects on the leading parts of the wing or by measuring the gusts ahead of the wing.
Professor Watkins says the system has great potential for all sizes of aircraft.
“While we need to explore new sensor arrangements to apply this technology to larger and faster aircraft, we have proven the idea on the most challenging problem of keeping small, lightweight planes steady – since these are the ones that get bounced around the most,” he says.
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