Sunday, February 12, 2012

Science: hovering airplanes

New study finds hovering airplanes could become a reality; Military use possible

The State Column
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Hovering airplanes? Hover boards? It could all become commonplace, according to a study released Saturday, which finds that weight distribution contributes to the hovering ability of insects and other creatures.

A new study led by Jun Zhang, a Professor at NYU’s Courant Institute, finds that hovering in mid-air may depend more on weight distribution than once thought. Hovering in midair is easier for structures that are top-heavy, contrary to common perceptions about flight stability, U.S. researchers say.

To gauge which types of structures best maintained their balance, the researchers created paper bugs with various centers of mass. Top-heavy bugs were made by fixing a weight above the pyramid, and low center-of-mass bugs bore this weight below.

The results show that the most top-heavy bugs hovered stably while those with a lower center of mass could not maintain their balance.

“It works somewhat like balancing a broomstick in your hand,” said Mr. Zhang in a statement. “If it begins to fall to one side, you need to apply a force in this same direction to keep it upright.”

The results of the study could ultimately lead to the creation of a number of hovering prototypes, including military airplanes. Currently, there are a few airplanes that hover in calm air such as the AV-8 Harrier, and the V-22 Osprey, as well as a couple of others that have been built over the years. Some military aircraft either have vectorized thrust from their engines and/or enough thrust to hover on that alone, but this tends to be very inefficient from a fuel-consumption standpoint, and the amount of time during which the aircraft can hover is quite limited.

The study has been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Read more:

No comments:

Post a Comment