Skip to Content

Micro-vehicle Imitates the Winged Maple Seed

The new “robo-seed” flies using just a single propeller.

Growing up, I used to toss up Maple seeds and watch as these “helicopters” slowly spiraled to the ground.

The monocopter developed at the University of Maryland.

Now a team at the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering has created a small, one-winged, remote-controlled device that mimics the maple seed’s graceful flight mechanics

Researchers have aimed to make micro air vehicles for some time, often taking inspiration from nature, such as dragonflies or houseflies, to design small, efficient devices. Such low-powered micro vehicles could be used in surveillance, search-and-rescue, and communications applications.

The new “robo-seed” can fly and hover stably using just its single twisting propeller. The researchers accomplished this by separating the carefully-shaped wing and body components of the device, allowing them to control the wing’s tilt (and the size of the helix-shaped descent) without throwing off the flyer’s balance.

According to the university’s press release, the robo-seed can not only take off from the ground and hover in air, but it can also perform controlled flight and hover when tossed from an aircraft or by hand.

Watch a video charting the robo-seed’s development below.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.