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

wet market selling fish
wet market selling fish

This scientist now believes covid started in Wuhan’s wet market. Here’s why.

How a veteran virologist found fresh evidence to back up the theory that covid jumped from animals to humans in a notorious Chinese market—rather than emerged from a lab leak.

light and shadow on floor
light and shadow on floor

How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation

The tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages, bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.

masked travellers at Heathrow airport
masked travellers at Heathrow airport

We still don’t know enough about the omicron variant to panic

The variant has caused alarm and immediate border shutdowns—but we still don't know how it will respond to vaccines.

This new startup has built a record-breaking 256-qubit quantum computer

QuEra Computing, launched by physicists at Harvard and MIT, is trying a different quantum approach to tackle impossibly hard computational tasks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration 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.