At the Swiss EPFL Technology Institute, a drone has been equipped with feathers to increase its precision during flight. The bio-inspired device can spread or close its wings while flying, making it easier to maneuver and more resistant in high winds. After carefully observing birds in flight, researchers from the EPFL Laboratory of Intelligent Systems came up with the idea of building an energy-efficient winged drone capable of changing its wingspan, flying at high speed and moving through tight spaces. The team developed a drone fitted with maneuverable quill feathers that function like the large quill feathers of a bird located at the edge of the wing. The drone’s artificial feathers are made of fiberglass and covered in a durable nylon fabric. The researchers discovered that the drone didn’t need ailerons to help the airborne drone turn. “By changing the wingspan and surface area during flight, we could make it turn automatically,” said research leader Dario Floreano, head of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems. The feather-winged drone’s big aeronautical advantage over conventional drones is its ability to adapt to wind conditions. That could prove particularly valuable at low altitudes in urban environments where winds change rapidly, Floreano said. Watch a video here. For details, see the report on Electronics360.globalspec.com.