MIT and NASA researchers develop airplane wing that could change shape mid-air

The wing will increase the efficiency of aircraft.


A team of researchers at MIT worked closely with the US space agency NASA to develop an airplane wing that is capable of changing shape and increase the efficiency of aircraft flight, maintenance, and production, reports MIT News.

MIT and NASA researchers develop airplane wing that could change shape


In case of a conventional wing, only a few parts of the wing such as flaps and ailerons can move to help the plane change direction. The wing that MIT and NASA researchers have developed would be capable of moving entirely.

The wing is made of hundreds of small, identical pieces that have both flexible and rigid components making it lightweight and more efficient than traditional airplane wings. Thanks to the adjustable components, the wing performs better than traditional wings.

"We're able to gain efficiency by matching the shape to the loads at different angles of attack," NASA research engineer Nicholas Cramer told MIT News.

Researchers have arranged the parts in a lattice structure that creates a large amount of empty space and covered with a thin polymer material. MIT graduate student Benjamin Jenett told MIT News that during the test the wing performed well above expectations. The test was conducted in a wind tunnel at NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia.

Besides, the US Air Force is testing AI-powered autonomous drones that will help human pilots better perform their mission. The Air Force said in a press release that it was seeking input from the tech industry in a new AI initiative for self-driven autonomous drones it calls Skyborg.

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