Out of Many, One

Autonomous Aircraft Combine To Increase Stability, Power.

Popular Science (6/8, Dillow) reports, “Researchers at the ETH Zurich recognize that different tasks call for different aircraft, and with that in mind they’ve designed the Distributed Flight Array (DFA), a flying platform consisting of multiple small autonomous single rotor aircraft that can dock with one another to create a larger, more powerful aircraft.” Each “fixed [propeller] aircraft” that makes up the DFA has “its own sensors and flight control system,” and can “fly somewhat erratically.” However, “joined together they become a larger sensor-based flight platform, capable of maintaining level flight by rapidly sharing data between them.” The array “is a proof of concept” at this point, but “such a scheme could have a variety of applications, not least of which is the relatively straightforward yet sometimes difficult task of picking stuff up.”

Reposted from the June 8, 2010 ASEE First Bell

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