Using advanced carbon fibre composite building blocks arranged in a lattice, engineers from the NASA Mission Adaptive Digital Composite Aerostructure Technologies (MADCAT) team and students from institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could induce the wing to bend and twist, morphing in response to actuators in the fuselage.
A test aircraft was successfully flown in May this year at a test airfield in California.
The goal is to cut drag created by rigid control surfaces such as elevators, ailerons and rudders. As morphing wings do away with these surfaces, they are more fuel-efficient.
Originally published by Cosmos as Shape-shifting wings key to more efficient flight
Jake Port contributes to the Cosmos explainer series.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.