Bionic drones have taken the world by storm. Drones no longer retain the standard four-rotor design. Drones have evolved into vehicles capable of unfathomable potential. There exist drones which resemble fishes in every way and dive deep into the ocean. Although, birds, the living counterparts of UAVs, have always been a constant inspiration for designers. They have strived to make drones appear more life-like. In a similar attempt to resemble nature’s design, drone developers, from the Passerine’s Drones, have added bird-inspired legs beneath a fixed-wing drone. This supposedly helps the drone take off vertically by leaping like a bird.

A jump start for fixed-wing designs

In the spectrum of drone usability, traditional rotor drones have had a significant advantage in the area of carrying heavy payloads and vertical take-offs. However, the downside to rotor drones has always been its flight capabilities. Unlike fixed-wing drones, rotor drones are not that great flyers. Fixed-wing drones are more or less a miniature replica of airplanes and thus, extremely versatile flyers. Fixed-wing drones can fly incredibly long distances even with heavy payloads but are often faced with the issue of a runway. Although, these drones are technically more efficient for longer distances; they require a runway to land and take-off which is scarce in remote locations.

With the introduction of ‘bird-legs’, these drones can finally put their flight performance to good use. Drones would be able to land and take-off from virtually any sort of unstable ground. Passerine’s CEO Matthew Whalley explained how the company’s drones can both launch without a runway and fly efficiently:

“When it launches, it essentially jumps into the air,” he said. “The launch is very similar to a bird… When it jumps, it’s not about gaining height, it’s about launching the drone forward to get it up past its minimum flight speed, and at that point, it’s flying like a conventional aircraft.”

The mechanical legs help the drone achieve enough momentum for vertical take-off.

Passerine’s drones will start flying in late 2019

With the development and testing of this unique design coming to its final stages, Passerine hopes to perfect its take-off and landing cycle. Furthermore, the company plans to launch several piloted projects, which use the bird-inspired design, in the second quarter of 2019.

According to Whalley, the drones will have the maximum impact on areas with low infrastructure. He stated that not many places have developed runways or droneports. Places like Africa are said to be positively affected by this innovation. Getting long-range aerial vehicles can prove drastically more advantageous than sticking to short-distanced rotor drones. Finally, with this unique design in place, fixed-winged drones can effectively take on the commercial sector.

Watch the rare design in action: