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Signal of the Day: Fluid-Structures make the Transformers a real-life possibility?

by Marty Resnick  |  June 18, 2020  |  Comments Off on Signal of the Day: Fluid-Structures make the Transformers a real-life possibility?

According to The Next Web, Oh crap, the US Military has shape-shifting drones now, researchers with the US Army Research Laboratory and Texas A&M University just published research that explored fluid-structures.

Essentially the idea is to create new drone-like vehicles that could change shape in flight to an optimal structure. For example, according to the article “small wings are useful for fast travel over short distances, whereas long wings are useful for when drones need to spend a lot of time in the air”.

An aerospace engineer at the laboratory, Dr. Francis Phillips, describes it as “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. During dash segments, short wings are desirable in order to go fast and be more maneuverable, but for loiter segments, long wings are desirable in order to enable low power, high endurance flight.” 

So why is this an important signal to follow:

Besides the coolness factor of shape-shifting vehicles, this is really not that new of an idea. Fluid-structures have been researched for over 20 years. However, now that the military is making progress in this space, automotive manufactures, for example could start leveraging this technology in new and innovative ways. A technology they have been trying to harness since BMW’s GINA project in 200.

I could also see applications in other transportation industries, like airlines and Space Travel and Exploration.

I believe the article puts it best:

“There’s always an ethical dilemma when it comes to military tech, but we can hope this tool will filter down to constructive commercial uses. This kind of tool‘s cost savings and insights could be a benefit to all kinds of vehicle makers to take a new approach to vehicle aerodynamics, and offer transport that changes shape to adapt to the driving conditions and improve efficiency.”

For more information on disruptions and trends see “Inventing the Future With Continuous Foresight“.

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Category: continuous-foresight  emerging-tech  signal-of-the-day  trendspotting  

Tags: bmw  continuous-foresight  disruption  drones  emerging-tech  fluid-structures  military  shape-shifting  signal  space  transformation  transformers  travel  uav  

Marty Resnick
Sr Director Analyst
3 years at Gartner
20 years IT Industry

Marty Resnick is a Research Director on Gartner's Enterprise Architecture and Technology Innovation team based in Atlanta, GA (USA). Mr. Resnick's primary focus is on the role of the Enterprise Architect in the selection, recommendation and implementation of emerging technologies (e.g. virtual reality and augmented reality), as well as, the use of methodologies such as Agile and Design Thinking for use in ideation, innovation and achieving business outcomes. Read Full Bio




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