Rutgers University researchers bring drone technology to new heights

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Drones have become quite useful over the past decade – being used for everything from aerial photography to delivering packages.

But advanced technology for the flying machines is being developed at one of New Jersey’s universities.

One type of drone being developed at Rutgers University is known as an Ornithopter and uses wings instead of propellers.

“This type of drone flies by creating lift and thrust by flapping wings,” says Dr. Onur Bilgen with Rutgers Aerospace Engineering department.

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The researchers are also experimenting with new materials for drones. These materials can change shape when electricity is applied. This removes the need for thousands of mechanical parts found in conventional drones.

There are also drones that can “fly” underwater.

“You can deploy from a ship. You can deploy from the land and very quickly reach the location, check it out and come back and report,” says Professor Javier Diez.

The researchers say that the goal was to develop a “cool” vehicle that could also have an impact on society. The drones can assist in search and rescue, help study marine life or quickly get to the scene of a disaster at sea. And because drones use less power underwater, they can stay submerged for hours.

The researchers say that smartphones can be credited for the advances in drone technology. Demand for batteries brought down the price of batteries overall, allowing drones to fly for longer.

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