Shape-shifting rescue planes: Where can we sign up for one?

OK, so maybe the technology has not come this far yet.

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a shape-shifting UAV robot?

Developers in Cyprus and Israel, as part of EUREKA, a European collaborative science effort, recently announced creation of an unmanned aircraft that will be able to change shape in order to maneuver in severe weather while performing maritime search-and-rescue missions.

The National Science Foundation this week published a thorough review on the U.S News & World Report web site. The article calls the result from the “E! 3931 ASARP” project a cheap-to-build, small, and handy aircraft that will shorten the duration of sea-based rescue operations and be able to operate from land or water in extreme weather. [more]

Final stages of testing continue on a prototype in Cyprus. Commercial use will also depend on governmental aviation regulations, according to the article, assumedly to allow the design’s moving parts the legal freedom to, ahem, spread its wings.

Project director Dr. Michael Amprikidis said the use of cutting-edge technologies such as aeroservoelastic trim tabs allow the airframe to reformulate itself and its light mass to overcome harsh conditions by doing so.

"A tab can have very high oscillation frequency,” Amprikidis was quoted in saying in the article. “Traditional flight surfaces cannot match these frequencies, leading to up-and-down movement of aircraft during turbulence."

Read more here.