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Helicopter Emulates Falling Maple Seed Pod: I’m Never Getting in One of These Things

by Paul Strauss
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Riding in a helicopter can be a thrilling, and sometimes harrowing experience. But this helicopter design is one that I can say that with certainty that I would never, ever set foot inside of.

robotic_samara_maple_seed_copter._1

This unusual single-winged flying machine by Evan Ulrich and a team at of the University of Maryland is designed to mimic the twirling flight path of one of those maple seed pods. Naturally, seed pods twirl down to the ground, and don’t fly upwards, but that didn’t stop researchers from developing this contraption that spins its way skyward:

Yikes. While I’m sure the flight physics of this thing are cool for scientific study, there’s no way you’d ever want to fly in something like this. Heck, you’d probably throw up on takeoff, then your pool of vomit would go flying around the inside of the chopper until you landed. That’s a pleasant thought.

It took Evan and team nearly 100 prototypes to get one that would fly reliably, and from the looks of the videos, you can see why. At this point, Ulrich sees the commercial opportunities for the seed-pod-copter as a potential way to quickly move satellites into the jet stream, and not for manned flight. Thank goodness for that.

[via NewScientist]

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