This Bird-Inspired Tower Fan Uses Flapping Wings

Home Technology This Bird-Inspired Tower Fan Uses Flapping Wings
This Bird-Inspired Tower Fan Uses Flapping Wings

At this point, building a flying vehicle isn’t terribly hard. Aviation enthusiasts can buy DIY kits and build themselves a plane that can easily and safely take to the skies. But a flying vehicle that can take off vertically without jet engines or propellers? That’s the aspiration of a company called Volerian, which thinks flapping wings are a better solution. To help show the world how effective the approach can be, it now wants to sell you a flapping fan.

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Rethinking our approach to aviation is going to be important if flying cars are ever going to be a thing that’s not perpetually about two years away. We don’t even know what a flying car is going to be, but assuming it will share the roads with cars, cyclists, and pedestrians, giant spinning propellers or jet engines blasting exhaust for hundreds of feet aren’t the solution. But are flapping wings? Engineers have been borrowing designs from nature for as long as humans have been able to invent things, and it’s hard to argue that flapping wings aren’t an effective way to get airborne. It’s efficient and quiet—when was the last time you ever heard a bird in flight from afar?

Image for article titled This Bird-Inspired Tower Fan Uses Flapping Wings
Image: Volerian

Volerian’s website lists several designs for its proposed STOL (short take-off and landing) and VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, but they all rely on a uniquely designed wing structure. There are no visible engines or propellers, but inside each wing is a large number of tiny flapping wings positioned inside aerodynamic ducts that generate enough thrust to get airborne. The flapping motion is more akin to a fish’s tail fin flapping back and forth to propel it through the water than the complicated motions of a bird’s wings, but the basic idea is the same.