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Proceedings Paper

A paleo-aerodynamic exploration of the evolution of nature's flyers, man's aircraft, and the needs and options for future technology innovations
Author(s): Brenda M. Kulfan
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Paper Abstract

Insights and observations of fascinating aspects of birds, bugs and flying seeds, of inspired aerodynamic concepts, and visions of past, present and future aircraft developments are presented. The evolution of nature's flyers, will be compared with the corresponding evolution of commercial aircraft. We will explore similarities between nature's creations and man's inventions. Many critical areas requiring future significant technology based solutions remain. With the advent of UAVs and MAVs, the gap between "possible" and "actual" is again very large. Allometric scaling procedures will be used to explore size implications on limitations and performance capabilities of nature's creations. Biologically related technology development concepts including: bionics, biomimicry, neo-bionic, pseudo-mimicry, cybernetic and non-bionic approaches will be discussed and illustrated with numerous examples. Technology development strategies will be discussed along with the pros and cons for each. Future technology developments should include a synergistic coupling of "discovery driven", "product led" and "technology acceleration" strategies. The objective of this presentation is to inspire the creative nature existing within all of us. This is a summary all text version of the complete report with the same title that report includes approximately 80 figures, photos and charts and much more information.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 April 2009
PDF: 59 pages
Proc. SPIE 7288, Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2009, 728803 (6 April 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.827824
Show Author Affiliations
Brenda M. Kulfan, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7288:
Active and Passive Smart Structures and Integrated Systems 2009
Mehdi Ahmadian; Mehrdad N. Ghasemi-Nejhad, Editor(s)

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