Posted by: robotnews | April 3, 2007

Morphing Planes

Morphing planes

New generation: Planes with Shape-Changing.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have been evolving. From the slow and bulky flying boxes, they have improved to become much smaller and quieter. Now, there’s a new proposed version of it: A fast, swift and agile plane that mimics that of birds and sea gulls. It ranges from 15cm long to 60cm.

Its capabilities would include that of ‘diving in between buildings, zoom under overpasses and land on apartment balconies’ which often requires ‘sharp turns, spins and dives’. This can be achieved by changing the shape of the wings. There were a few prototypes that were done to produce these effects, the latest having the wings capable of being transformed from down to up position. This is modeled after the sea gulls, and the prototype was capable of making that transformation in just 12 seconds. Such transformation is assisted by motors and supported by metal rods, which allows the plane to be used suitably in city landscape.
Current research now stands at improving the ease of flying such planes. This morphing plane loses stability when it is in a high maneuverability mode. Ultimate aim however would be focused on making such planes autonomous.

Such planes would be useful in the military or police or the fire and bomb-removal departments, or in cases like 24-hour surveillance for security purposes or that of monitoring potential problems in hazardous plants like nuclear power plant or oil refinery plants, etc.



  1. Its just great to see how the UAVs have evolved over time. I was curious as to degree of autonomy present in the current version of this morphing plane. None the less, it would be tremendously helpful in providing access to remote areas and in information gathering

    Karthik Ramaswamy

  2. I find that this plane is very useful in many applications. However, I would like to know why the plane will lose stability when in high maneuverability mode? What are the effects and what are the degree of stability loss? Will this impede the plane or endanger civilian if used in public area?
    Hope that you can clarify my doubts.

    Lai Sing Zie

  3. ermmm… this is the webbie:

    They were saying that this is similar to how the sea gull ‘stoops down to very low in a very short time’ (for instance) but losing its stability. Basically it means it can dive (if going downwards) better.

    To restore stability once again, the wing’s shape is changed again. Of course, i understand that there is a concern over here with regards to safety. I guess sea gulls that can’t control their flight properly just crash and die?

    So perhaps this depends (for now) the skills of the pilot behind the remote control, and in future, the smartness of the controller unit.

  4. The picture and description of the features make it seem like a very interesting remote control toy. I for one would want to have a go at it. Entertainment appeal aside, if the mechanics of the plane can be studied and programmed, I believe automation of this Morphing Plane would render it a very useful tool in many aspects such as surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

    Lai Wei Lup

  5. Osbert Poniman U037052H

    I think the advantage of this morphing planes (after it becomes completely autonomous) is that the plane is able to explore more area easily because it does not depend on the surface of a particular area. Imagine that it can survey across oceans, mountains, etc. It definitely will be very useful for security purpose in the future

  6. I was just wondering, where has this new generation UAV been implemented? Does military purposes refer to spying and the like? That would be very interesting…
    Sivagami A

  7. This invention gives me the impression of the animation Transformers. I am quite surprised that we can actually build vehicle capable of transforming gracefully in a sort time duration. I can see that such a morphing plane would be able to cruise through city landscape with sky scraping buildings much more easily than a cumbersome plane with wide wings. How about morphing into a land vehicle or boat in the sea? It would be cool if that is possible. These planes could be useful for military and surveillance purposes, but I think it is still far off from being safe enough to be practical. Perhaps the vehicles we use daily could also be modified with some degree of morphing capabilities so that they could be suited for different journey requirements. How about morphing into a shape which takes up smaller parking space when needed? Just some far-fetched thoughts.

    Su Shiyan U036793W

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