Researchers at the University of Bristol claim that unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has learned to land like a perching bird with the help of clever algorithms and morphing wings. We have seen how it is natural for birds to land on ledge, but it is difficult for any sort of aircraft, especially with a fixed-wings.
Any aircraft is designed to minimize its drag coefficient to keep it in the air, but when it needs to slow to land, it must increase that drag. It could be accomplished by tilting back that its wings present more surface area to the oncoming air. Tilting back too far at too slow and drag can quickly exceed lift, leading the plane to stall, lose control, and crash.
Scientists are able to tilt up aircraft’s wings to create more drag for landing, while morphing a section of those wings to provide just enough lifting force to maintain stable flight control. To control these complex wing structures, researchers employed machine learning algorithms to develop a flight controller inspired by birds.
The University of Bristol UAV is the first to effectively used the combination of a morphing wing UAV and machine learning to perform a bird-style perched landing on the ground. The short video below shows the UAV in action.
Source: University of Bristol