A scene depicting dozens of autonomous drones shifting shape while in midflight isn’t from a trailer of the (inevitable) Transformers sequel. It’s a soon-to-be reality for the U.S. Army.
Researchers with the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory and Texas A&M University recently presented findings from a two-year study at the AIAA Aviation Forum and Exposition’s virtual event.
According to an army press release, the research project will “be able to rapidly optimize the structural configuration for Future Vertical Lift vehicles while properly accounting for the interaction between air and the structure.”
“Consider an [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] mission where the vehicle needs to get quickly to station, or dash, and then attempt to stay on station for as long as possible, or loiter,” said Francis Phillips, an aerospace engineer at the laboratory. “During dash segments, short wings are desirable in order to go fast and be more maneuverable, but for loiter segments, long…