Science

NASA And MIT Collaborate On Subsequent-Gen Versatile Airplane Wing Design

NASA And MIT Collaborate On Subsequent-Gen Versatile Airplane Wing Design”

But lightness isn't the only advantage of the new wing design.

The university has published an article detailing the results of new research conducted by MIT and NASA engineers.

This was achieved by using hundreds of small identical parts arranged in a lattice structure that creates large empty spaces. As such, the wing should make aircrafts it is installed on quite a bit more energy efficient. It looks like thousands of matchstick-type struts welded together in small triangle shapes.

But a wing that is, say, constantly deformable could better suit the necessary configuration for each stage.

Assembled from hundreds of tiny identical pieces, the pinion can change shape to control flight.

The researchers also took the new wing a step further by designing a system that automatically responds to changes in its aerodynamic loading conditions, by shifting its shape without the need for additional motors or cables.

"Were able to gain efficiency by matching the shape to the loads at different angles of attack", NASA research engineer Nicholas Cramer told MIT News. "We're able to produce the exact same behavior you would do actively, but we did it passively". By strategically placing these stiff and flexible struts, researchers made a wing that changes shape in response to stress. While the meter-long model they made was hand assembled, the process was created to be repetitive, so that later on, small, autonomous robots will probably be able to assemble the wings. They've brought the time required to produce each part - a hollow cube with little struts along each edge - down from a few minutes to only 17 seconds.

While this craft was hand built, the researchers say in the future robots could mass-produce the crafts making it an even cheaper process. "We have boxes and boxes of them, all the same". The lattice reportedly has the same stiffness as rubber, but with much lower density - 5.6kg per m, compared to 1,500kg. Since this "metamaterial" is, for the most part, comprised of void space, it is very lightweight - less than one-thousandth the density of rubber.

The engineers will undoubtedly continue to make adjustments to ideal their design; however, they said the results are promising.

The researchers confirmed this new concept is an improvement on their previously tested 3-foot wing, which they built themselves.

A model of the wing has already undergone testing in NASA's high-speed wind tunnel at Langley Research Center. Meanwhile, it likewise can possibly redesign other structures, similar to the wing-like blades of wind turbines.



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