Serenity is a dragonfly-inspired airplane with flapping wings

If even the slightest turbulence during a flight makes you reach for the bag to throw up, you will never want to get on board Russian contraption what do you use flapping wings to take flight. But it shows that Mother Nature’s designs can be oversized to one day revolutionize air travel.

This isn’t the first time we’ve managed to reverse engineer how airborne creatures, like insects and birds, soar into the sky. In fact, mechanical ornithopters (airplanes that fly with a flap mechanism) are so common that people have been building spring-stem versions out of balsa wood and paper for years. For $ 40 you can buy a remote control robotic bird that’s surprisingly maneuverable for a toy. What’s so impressive about this contraption called Serenity, which looks like it was based on one of Da Vinci’s many sketches of possible flying machines, is its scale.

The Russian-built ornithopter is proof that a flapping-wing flight approach is not just an option for tiny insects or birds whose skeletal structure and bodies are designed to be as lightweight as possible. With a fuselage that appears to be about 10 feet long, three sets of flapping wings, and all the mechanisms, links, cables, and batteries needed to create the flapping motion, Serenity is easily heavier than even the largest flying creatures we have in. the earth. . It doesn’t appear to be large enough to accommodate a human passenger or pilot at the moment, but that’s just a matter of scale and funding; future versions of Serenity could be even bigger.

The constant up and down motion of the wings makes Serenity look like it will provide a bumpy ride for anyone trying to climb aboard, but in the same way that birds can keep their heads stabilized while flapping madly, there’s no question. that this is a complication. that can be overcome with more engineering. But why go to so much trouble when airplanes work well?

Modern airplanes rely on forward motion to create lift on their wings and stay aloft, which is provided by jet engines or propellers creating thrust, both very noisy solutions. It also means that planes have a minimum speed that they must maintain or else they will stop and fall from the sky. Using the movements of an airplane’s wings to generate lift opens up incredible potential for maneuverability, as anyone who has seen a dragonfly dart around hunting mosquitoes can attest, or a hummingbird carefully sipping from a flower while still in the air. flight. Serenity is far from being able to float in the air, and even her ability to drive is limited, but she shows exciting potential. Will a Boeing 777 ever flap its giant wings? Probably not, but wing flapping is possibly a safer alternative to strapping a jet engine on people’s backs as a personal flight solution.


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