The Defense Advanced Research Institute (DARPA) announced the latest technology available for helicopters: dragonfly-inspired skids.
Helicopters are both fit for a wide range of operations from military to reconnaissance to humanitarian and disaster relief, and easy to maneuver. At least in air. It’s a different story when it comes to landing helicopters, as the landing pad or surface needs to be as flat as possible, without much of an incline and certainly not moving.
Now, DARPA researchers have come up with dragonfly-inspired skids to minimize all of these inconveniences and bring helicopters an extra-edge. The newly designed skids are articulated legs, similar to those of the insects that inspired them and fairly flexible, minimizing the risk of accidents when it comes to landing.
The new dragonfly-inspired skids allow helicopters to land safely, even on inclined surfaces or uneven, rough surfaces. Besides being flexible, all four articulated skids sport force feedback sensors that send information to the helicopter on exactly how much pressure should be exerted for the helicopter to maintain level.
The technology was showed off during DARPA’s event in St. Louis “Wait, What? A Future Technology Forum”. Ashish Bagai, the program manager at DARPA declared:
“The equipment, mounted on an otherwise unmodified, unmanned helicopter, successfully demonstrated the ability to land and take off from terrain that would be impossible to operate with the standard landing gear”.
The dragon-fly inspired skids fold as the helicopter takes off and then extend to prepare for landing. The incorporated force feedback sensors keeping the helicopter leveled help the rotor to not come in contact with any of the surrounding surfaces.
Moreover, the new landing gear allows the helicopters to land on landing slopes inclined to 20 degrees, which is more than the traditional landing permitted. Landing on slopes and difficult terrain has never been easier.
The new landing gear research was funded by DARPA’s Mission Adaptive Rotor Program.
Photo Credits: Yahoo