Researchers have designed micro-unmanned aerial vehicle inspired by a maple seed. The University of Maryland engineers studied the spiral flight the seeds take when they fall from a tree and created what the university claims is the "world's smallest controllable single-winged rotocraft."
In the 1950s, researchers first tried to create an unmanned aerial vehicle that could mimic a maple seed's spiraling fall. Ever since, their attempts have been foiled by instability, resulting in a lack of control over the tiny (less than one meter) vehicles, which were easily knocked off course by wind."Spiraling Flight of Maple Tree Seeds Inspires New Surveillance Technology"
The Clark School (Aerospace Engineering) students have solved the steering problem and provided a solution that allows the device to take off from the ground and hover, as well as perform controlled flight after its initial fall to the ground after being deployed from an aircraft. The device can also begin to hover during its initial descent, or after being launched by hand.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.