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Roboticists made a shape-shifting drone inspired by hawks

Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry’s top tech writers. This week’s pick is a bird-inspired drone.

Engineers in Switzerland have designed a drone with maneuverable wings that resembles a hawk, said Rob Verger at Popular Science. The most popular drones today are either fixed-wing — similar to miniature airplanes — or use rotating propellers that “can act like wings and provide lift.”

But roboticists wanted to create a more “birdlike drone that’s capable of cruising long distances at high speeds (like a fixed-wing plane) while remaining highly maneuverable.”

(Courtesy image)

The result is the carbon-fiber LisHawk. It has “wings that can extend outward or tuck inward,” and a tail that can “fan out, and move up and down and side to side.” While the robo-hawk still needs a propeller “sticking out of its beak,” the shape-shifting concept is supposed to let it turn and dive more naturally, like the northern goshawk, its avian inspiration.

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This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.