Surveillance drones from University of South Australia use tail elevation and thrust to control gliding and hovering.


  • Increased safety
  • Reduced noise
  • Lightweight


  • Surveillance
  • Security
  • Remotely Operated Vehicles

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

In areas that may be dangerous or difficult to reach, like war or disaster zones, delivering packages with essential supplies can be critical, and drones are a useful option. However, typical drones are bulky and heavy, which slows them down and reduces their maneuverability. Additionally, heavy drones cost more and use more energy, making more of an impact on the environment.

Innovation Details

The flapping wing drone, also called the ornithopter, weighs the same as two tablespoons of flour. It can hover, dart, glide, brake and dive like a swift, allowing it to fly in crowded areas but also be able to stop suddenly and avoid collisions. This makes it more versatile than existing quadcopter drones, with the added benefits of being safer and quieter. It uses tail control to act as a paraglider, airplane, and helicopter. By changing the orientation and height of the tail, the drone can control its speed and movement. Additionally, the drone is lightweight and has slow beating wings which allow for control over the thrust and movement when carrying different amounts of weight.