IISc scientists plan fly-sized surveillance plane

Eye in the sky

IISc scientists plan fly-sized surveillance plane

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) are now working on building a fly-sized aircraft that can be used for surveillance, rescue operations or army missions.

The team of scientists at IISc is deciphering insect flight to mimic the same in a mechanical process. However, the team says that understanding insect flight is a challenging task.

Insects can not only flap and rotate their wings but also deform them momentarily. Such stunts help them perform enviable acrobatics. They can also change their speed and direction very quickly and land on a flower dancing in a gale.

Using sophisticated visualising techniques and computational tools, researchers at the Nonlinear Multi-functional Composites - Analysis and Design Laboratory (NMCAD Lab) at IISc, headed by Prof Dineshkumar Harursampath, say that insect flight is much more than what meets the unaided eye.

Earlier, the flight of a fly seemed to defy the aerodynamic principles on which aircrafts were built. However, in the last three or four decades, a better understanding of an insect’s flight has emerged, enabling humans to mimic the same to some extent. The team is using state-of-the-art techniques to gain insights into how nature has engineered insects.

Using novel materials that are light and flexible, they have successfully designed an aircraft that is the size of a crow. Now, the team at IISc aims to build an aircraft that is as small as a fly. Prof Harursampath is conscious of one important aspect of design found in nature - sustainability.

“Nothing in nature eventually goes waste. It has a built-in recycling system. Even its occasional short-term destruction is aimed at long-term reconstruction,” he said. His lab also focuses on employing environment-friendly materials for various applications.

Award ceremony

IISc will facilitate five of its distinguished alumni at an award ceremony that will be held on August 30. The alumni are: A S Kiran Kumar, chairman, ISRO, Professor Sunil Kumar, dean and professor, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, KSR Charan Reddy, IGP and SIT chief, Prof Mitter Vedu, former faculty at PES University, Dr Subhash C Singhal, Battelle Fellow Emeritus at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Washington, USA.

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