Thinking Tech

Will radical new flying machine replace helicopters?

Will radical new flying machine replace helicopters?

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The D-Dalus is ultra-quiet, works swimmingly in harsh weather conditions and requires much less maintenance than helicopters.

It can take off vertically, hover, rotate on a dime, fly in reverse and thrust down to nail a landing on a moving target. And it can do all of this at jet-like speed and without any of that familiar loud chopping noise.

But what's probably most impressive about the D-Dalus is that it doesn't have fixed wings or a rotorized engine system. Instead, it hovers using an innovative flight technology that may someday allow it to supplant helicopters as the ultimate in aerial maneuverability.

Helicopters have long been deployed in a wide range of military and police operations. Yet, for just as long, they've also been beset with some notable drawbacks. The same design principle that allows them to hover also limits their forward flying speed. The loud rotor engines also makes them impractical for reconnaissance missions.

IAT21, the company which developed the D-Dalus, claims their invention is a potential game-changer because it's designed to rectify all these concerns. It's ultra-quiet, works swimmingly in harsh weather conditions and requires much less maintenance, according to a report in Gizmag. The aircraft can enter buildings through windows and comes equipped with a sense-and-avoid system, which means it can navigate within tight spots and close to walls. Such versatility makes it ideal for search-and-rescue operations or as a surveillance drone.

The aircraft, which more closely resembles a lawn mower than any kind of known aircraft, differs in that it generates propulsion using four contra-rotating turbines spinning at speeds upwards of 2,200 rpm. But the key to its incredibly nimble maneuvering is the turbine's ability to be adjusted to produce thrust at different angles around the three axes.

A series of built-in computer algorithms take the guesswork out of how to reposition the blades so that in-air tricks, like glue-down landings, can be easily executed using a joystick.

Currently, the D-Dalus is marketed as a spy-drone. But the company plans to scale up the technology so that it can handle heavier payloads and even transport passengers.

"In trials to date D-DALUS has met the performance criteria placed upon it and appears to be scalable, becoming more efficient and less complex as it increases in size," according to the company website.

(via Gizmag)

Photo: IAT21

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure