Soaring towards greater UAV endurance using urban updrafts

Dr Reece Clothier with a prototype of a bio-inspired unmanned aircraft, under development ...

Most people who have cast their eyes skyward – or seen a nature documentary or two – will have seen lazily circling birds soaring to greater heights without flapping their wings. These soaring birds are catching a ride on rising air currents to save energy, and now researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, are aiming to develop bio-inspired UAVs capable of doing the same thing.

Working in collaboration with the Australian Department of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), the RMIT research team is aiming to develop a small fixed-wing unmanned aircraft that is able to autonomously take advantage of rising air currents around buildings to save energy and improve endurance.

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