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MIT Developing Planes That Land Like Birds

Modern aircrafts fly very quickly. But they still lose against nature in the grace department. What could be more beautiful than a bird landing quietly on a branch or wire? A new project at MIT promises to extend this elegance to airplanes, focusing on a system that maintains aircraft control even as it stalls.

For normal aircrafts, stalling is very dangerous. It leads to a loss of lift and control. But the MIT team believes the only way to replicate a bird's smooth landing movement is to purposely stall the aircraft. This MIT system takes a cue from intentionally unstable planes like the Stealth Bomber, which rely on computers to maintain control despite a stall.

While progress has been made, the lack of data from onboard sensors—not to mention the size and weight of the computer controller—means that numerous limitations remain for the team to conquer. A video of the project is available from Discovery News.