The Hustle

The sky’s the limit for these flapping drones

Enter the ornithopter, a bird-like bot that’s going places.

July 28, 2020

This is the stuff dreams — or nightmares — are made of. Scientists are testing a new drone design they call the ornithopter.

The bird-like bot’s 4 flapping wings make it more nimble and energy efficient — and weirder looking — than conventional drones.

Wait, how’s this work?

Most drones use propellers and static wings to take off and soar. Like insects and hummingbirds, ornithopters flap their wings to generate forward thrust.

The wings also allow them to make complex moves like darting, hovering, flipping, and recovering — all while using ~40% less energy than their propeller-powered peers.

They’re also safe to fly indoors, so they might someday be well-suited for complex tasks — like inspecting ventilation ducts in hard-to-access areas or pollinating plants grown in greenhouses on vertical farms.

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