Researchers at a Swiss university have developed a drone that has flexible wings with synthetic feathers. The drone’s wings can retract which gives it the ability to adapt to changing flight conditions like a bird.
Most drones and aircraft are specially designed for the environment in which they will operate. For instance long-range high altitude aircraft will need larger wing spans while high-speed, maneuverable aircraft will need are a more streamlined swept-back wing configuration. When outside of their ideal operating environment these aircraft are not as efficient and may even face dangers. Birds on the other hand, can change their ‘wing’ configuration to adapt to the different conditions they are flying in.
The research is still ongoing but the Swiss team has already overcome many obstacles like finding the right balance between aerodynamic efficiency and the weight of the device. Maybe one day drones will look more like birds than anything else.