With its 50 cm wing span and 80 grams of weight, this high tech bird is ready to infiltrate swift surveillance squads next summer. Aerospace engineering students at TU Delft, together with the Department of Experimental Zoology of Wageningen University designed the micro airplane that uses wing–morphing for steering. Doing so, the Roboswift becomes highly maneuverable at very high and very low speeds, just like the swift. During it’s test–flight today, this one ended up in a tree. But who knows… perhaps in the future they will be swarming the skies.
“Airplanes can do a lot, but so far they do not fly nearly as good as birds in terms of performance and efficiency. In a ‘standard’ civil aircraft, the wings are held a fixed position with respect to the fuselage during the full length of the flight. This is inefficient because flight conditions change in different flight phases. With their variable wings, birds can deal with the different conditions encountered during flight, thus reducing the power required to do so.”
The Roboswift carries three mini-cameras. Two of them are used to look in front of the aircraft, one will look towards the ground. The two front looking cameras are used for video–piloting and can be displayed on a VR headset. These two cameras can also be used for observing swifts when on a bioresearch mission. The ground–looking camera will be used for ground surveillance. This footage will be displayed on a separate monitor. The footage of all three cameras will be sent to ground via a wireless link, so ultrasmall video transmitters are also on board.