Drone from University of South Australia has flapping wings that and increase stability and efficiency during flight.


  • Safer
  • Efficient
  • Lightweight


  • Security
  • Surveillance
  • Medical diagnosis

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

Drones can be useful to deliver packages with essential supplies to areas that may be dangerous or difficult to reach such as battle fields or disaster zones. However, most drones are bulky and heavy, which slows them down and reduces their maneuverability. Additionally, heavy drones require more material, cost more, and consume more energy, which can increase their impact on the environment.

Innovation Details

The drone has several mechanisms that optimize flight efficiency during all operations such as taking off, hovering, nad cruising. One efficiency-saving feature is the large, light, corrugated wings that make up less than 2% of the machine’s weight. These lightweight wings maximize the amount of instantaneous control the actuators have over the wings, increasing flight accuracy. Another mechanism is the type of actuation, or how the wings move. The drone uses direct actuation, meaning the wings are directly attached to the actuators, which increases control of the wings. Lastly, the central “abdomen” combines functions, reducing the number of components required. For example, the abdomen doubles as a rudder and ballast to stabilize the drone while in flight, and it also houses the fuel cell.

Biomimicry Story

Dragonflies capture prey and avoid predators with their extraordinary flying abilities. The flying insects are able to turn at high speeds as well as take off while carrying three times their own body weight. Their long, light wings maximize efficiency during flight.