A Flying Machine that Also Walks
(May 2007) The next generation of scientists and engineers will be designing the next generation of technologies for defense and homeland security. Brian Taylor, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Fellow at Case Western Reserve University, for instance, is working on a concept for a new unmanned vehicle. It even has a Star Trek–esque name: the Micro Morphing Air and Land Vehicle.
Taylor’s concept is a small, unmanned plane that is able to both fly and, when needed, walk on the ground. “Its purpose is to serve as an unmanned hybrid land/air vehicle that can be sent into hazardous or hostile environments,” he says.
A Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, Taylor says his design combines the ground mobility expertise of research conducted at Case Western with aerial experience from the University of Florida. His lab work focuses on using the insights gained through the studies of biological mechanisms and principles to advance the field of robotics.
The vehicle, which has different models, is made with a lightweight carbon-fiber fuselage and fabric wings that fold to the side. The folding wings not only add to its uniqueness but also assist with the functionality of the wingspan, which can be as long as two feet. Its reduced size when not flying also allows for increased ground mobility, protection of the wings during ground operation, and easy transport when not in operation.
Taylor is a fellowship recipient from the Office of University Programs at the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and a member of the DHS Student and Alumni Network. DHS University Programs invests in the Nation’s colleges and universities for homeland security, providing research grants as well as scholarships and fellowships to individuals and institutions.