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D-Dalus
June 23, 2011 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Austrian research company IAT21 has presented a new type of aircraft at the Paris Air Show which has the potential to become aviation's first disruptive technology since the jet engine. ... The key to the D-Dalus' extreme maneuverability is the facility to alter the angle of the blades (using servos) to vector the forces, meaning that the thrust can be delivered in your choice of 360 degrees around any of the three axes. Hence D-Dalus can launch vertically, hover perfectly still and move in any direction, and that's just the start of the story.
posted by Trurl (38 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
That sounds pretty interesting. Are there any decent descriptions of it?
posted by hattifattener at 9:17 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think the ability to send air in any direction is all that new. Helicopters can alter the direction of air (they can actually fly upside down, and can easily 'glue down'). So this design may be interesting but I kind of doubt it's really all that 'disruptive'
posted by delmoi at 9:19 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


…to vector the forces…

MacGyver: "Vector in on that guy by the back wheel."
posted by Nomyte at 9:22 PM on June 23, 2011


Tonight, on Air Crash Investigations....a catastrophic vectoring-servo malfunction. Human error, or did the D-DALUS, like the child of its namesake, fly too close...to the sun? WATCH NOW as our special squad of investigators uses cutting-edge technology - with the same three seconds of CGI played over and over throughout the broadcast - to uncover the truth...behind the tragedy!
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:28 PM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do we finally get flying cars?
posted by The Potate at 9:38 PM on June 23, 2011


Aaaaargh!! Why do people (scifi, I'm looking mostly at you) name flying things after Daedalus? Is this not exactly wrong?

Please name future flying things after things or people not famously associated with fatal crashes..
posted by pompomtom at 9:41 PM on June 23, 2011 [17 favorites]


Helicopters can alter the direction of air (they can actually fly upside down, and can easily 'glue down'

Mmm not so much.

But anyway this sounds far too awesome to actually be real, and the website is far too vague to take seriously. I'm calling bullshit until we see some video.
posted by Camofrog at 9:46 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


One of my first model rockets was called the "Icarus."

It performed about as well as the name suggested (assuming that "too close to the sun" equals "about 500 feet")
posted by ShutterBun at 9:46 PM on June 23, 2011


One of the Gizmag commenters suggests it's a cyclogyro.
posted by hattifattener at 9:50 PM on June 23, 2011


D-Dalus' content management system must be a bitch to use.
posted by the noob at 9:59 PM on June 23, 2011


Am I missing something, or is this just a jet-like aircraft with thrust vectoring (or something between that and a tilt-rotor aircraft)?

We've already got the V22 and F35B, which scratch both of those itches (and are of questionable real-world utility). Until this can be applied outside of niche military applications, I'll offer up my yawns. Of course, if you *can* get a passenger jet off the ground vertically without much additional cost/complexity, that'd indeed be pretty disruptive. (Better still, if you can break the "long aluminium tube" paradigm of aircraft design at the same time, you might be worshipped as a hero)
posted by schmod at 10:08 PM on June 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Long aluminum (or other material) tube" has pretty much been the paradigm for ALL forms of mass human transport forever, though. (I'm thinking busses, trains, ships, etc.) I'm thinking it's got as much to do with "how do you pack humans together efficiently" as it has with aerodynamics.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:22 PM on June 23, 2011


From the second link:

Ideally we would love an aerial platform that can approach as gently and silently as a hot air balloon, can stay in the air like a humming-bird, can rotate in any direction like a football, can ‘glue down’ on the deck of a ship like a ‘tossed pancake’, can see in all directions like a crystal ball, can fly as fast as a jet, is as invisible as a 155mm shell and can be repaired by a local car mechanic.
Such an aircraft now appears within reach.
 

I'm skeptical, but if this is true, it sounds like it could be disruptive.
posted by The Potate at 10:29 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well it'll probably be more disruptive than the segway, at least.
posted by wilful at 10:40 PM on June 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Until this can be applied outside of niche military applications, I'll offer up my yawns.

Yep. Kinda tough to see what this is good for, if it's even sort of real, except killing bin Ladens or causing UFO reports.

Wouldn't truly disruptive aviation tech be a jetliner--an aluminum tube--that runs on rainbow power?
posted by Camofrog at 10:46 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there video. One wants to see to believe.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:46 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Offering up yawns.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:47 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


First, you guys need to work on your classical lit. Daedalus' wing design was fine; it was his son, Icarus, who fell, and that was because of his hubris.

And gee, I remember similar technology being big news when I was a kid (in the 60s).

As for this item "changing aviation" - everyone is so in permanent war mode (I guess it's the start of the summer fighting season) that they didn't notice that this technology is basically only useful for *military* aviation. This ability to move in any direction or hover is not at all useful for transportation, will have some limited use for search and rescue (but a helicopter already does a lot of this) - but 99% of the uses will involve Americans killing swarthy foreigners.

WE DON'T NEED ANY MORE MILITARY HARDWARE. America has been in permanent war fever for a very long time now - which is pathetic since America has been consistently losing wars for just about as long a time. Every penny spent on this crap is a penny taken away from better energy production, better food production, education, health care.

Really, Austria, couldn't you go back to yodeling and fine chocolates and get out of the military business? (Yes, yes, I lived in Austria for two years, I know it's far more than that, allow me some poetic license...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:50 PM on June 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I know I've been waiting all my life for an aircraft that can glue down on the deck of a ship like a tossed pancake. In lieu of pictures of the whole thing I imagine the D-Dalus looking like a pancake covered in glue.

Aaaaargh!! Why do people (scifi, I'm looking mostly at you) name flying things after Daedalus? Is this not exactly wrong?

Well, Daedalus was the one smart enough not to fly too close to the sun. Possibly the name is a warning to future pilots not to fly too high or the glue holding the pancake together will go all melty.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 10:52 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking it's got as much to do with "how do you pack humans together efficiently" as it has with aerodynamics.

Steven Heller noted this recently, and drew a fair bit of ire for it. Doesn't make it any less of a packing problem, though, no matter how distasteful.
posted by mumkin at 11:42 PM on June 23, 2011


I was just talking with some friends that it's interesting/a shame that flying technology hasn't changed in well over fifty years with the advent of the jet engine. Flying takes just as long now as it did back then. You can even argue that we've taken a step back, now that we no longer have supersonic Concorde flights. (Whether the Concorde was actually a step forward I'll leave for the experts to debate).

This sounds like science fiction. It sounds too good to be true. It appears there is no video or pictures of this thing actually flying, so this is either in the early prototype/testing phase, the high-concept phase, or the "let's see how many suckers we can get to click on our site and hope that draws some investors!" phase.
posted by zardoz at 12:12 AM on June 24, 2011


Flying takes just as long now as it did back then

While top speed for commercial jets still keeps them below Mach 1, one could argue that better fuel efficiency, increased capacity, and a more sophisticated infrastructure has certainly reduced the amount of time & material required to move X-number of people from point A to point B.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:39 AM on June 24, 2011


From camofrog's link:

For instance, the pilot would need to push the stick backward to make the helicopter move forward, and decrease the thrust to make it gain altitude.

Errr.... I'm not so sure about that second bit.
posted by edd at 12:55 AM on June 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


D-Dalus seems an interesting concept for a drone, but hardly a "disruptive technology". It's more like a flying Segway: neat, but quite a niche technology. This said, I'm shocked, shocked to see Gizmodo use breathless prose to report on it.

Anyway, I see two issues with D-Dalus:
a) It's a solution in search of a problem (like the Segway).
b) It involves far too many moving parts. The more moving parts a machine has, the more likely it is to break down. Reducing the number of moving parts is always an engineer's chief aim. The main problem with helicopters is definitely not lack of maneuverability, but their mechanical complexity. D-Dalus seems, if anything, worse in that aspect.
posted by Skeptic at 3:24 AM on June 24, 2011


I am no aeronautics expert but I think this has the potential to effectively own the skies.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:25 AM on June 24, 2011


What I took from the slashdot discussion is that the fuel efficiency of this thing is much lower than that of fixed wing planes or even helicopters.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 4:48 AM on June 24, 2011


If you cut the power does it still fly? No? Well then I'll stick with fixed-wing aircraft, thanks!
posted by blue_beetle at 5:30 AM on June 24, 2011


E DON'T NEED ANY MORE MILITARY HARDWARE. America has been in permanent war fever for a very long time now - which is pathetic since America has been consistently losing wars for just about as long a time. Every penny spent on this crap is a penny taken away from better energy production, better food production, education, health care.

Hmmm. An awful lot of technology that we use (especially in fixed wing aircraft for passenger transport) has come from military applications. It's a very effective testing ground. It's not a total one way technology drain, a lot of stuff does filter back. I mean, I agree that too much is being spent on military solutions, but companies can and do use large military contracts to support other projects (related to differing degrees) that actually produce decent non-military products. This can happen quite a lot.
posted by Brockles at 5:50 AM on June 24, 2011


According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
near

the edge of the sea
concerned
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning
posted by ersatz at 6:15 AM on June 24, 2011


So this is directed thrust + coanda lift? I am skeptical of it's efficiency and (unpowered complete lack of ) safety. From the article:

The forces on the blade pivots are understandably huge, and in initial testing it was found that all available bearings failed, so inventor Meinhard Schwaiger ... invented (and patented) his own, near-frictionless swivel-bearing to cope with the stresses.

This makes the Osprey look safe as houses.
posted by sea at 6:40 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looks like Tom Swift and his Ultrasonic Cycloplane (1957) to me.
posted by Nyrath at 7:08 AM on June 24, 2011


"This will be my greatest invention yet," Tom said breezily.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:42 AM on June 24, 2011


This sounds like science fiction. It sounds too good to be true. It appears there is no video or pictures of this thing actually flying,

This is exactly the path I followed on hearing this:

The kid me said "Whoa! Science Fiction! Cool!"

My internal skeptic chimed in with "Yeah, it sounds a bit too good to be true"

And then the cynic in my head nailed the coffin closed with "And predictably, there is no video".

I want to believe (really!), but until it's something other than a bunch of photos of what looks a lot like a piece of farm equipment, it's vaporware as far as I'm concerned.
posted by quin at 7:58 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


In spite of reading both links and looking at all of the pictures, I haven't been able to visualize how the damn thing is supposed to work.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:21 AM on June 24, 2011


it looks like it might work on the same principle as the Voith Schneider drive used on some tugboats.
posted by TheJoven at 8:33 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


In spite of reading both links and looking at all of the pictures, I haven't been able to visualize how the damn thing is supposed to work.

I'm fairly sure they have figured out how to manufacture enough directable thrust with a complement of electronic controllers to make their craft seemingly float. It's the type of microelectronics that weren't available in the 60s.

We can propel a fighter jet for a pretty long time at extraordinary speeds, so this isn't one of those inventions that is violating fundamental physics or anything.

Even if this only ever lifts a few hundred kilograms, it could be a literal lifesaver in emergency situations, especially if it can perform in windy conditions. Helicopter pilots will tell you that they maneuver their craft with their entire body, and we have severe limitations when it comes to compensating correctly in extreme conditions. It sounds like this would be able to maneuver into a hole inside of a building during high wind without smashing itself against anything.

That would be disruptive, and amazing, to say the least.
posted by notion at 8:37 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Daedalus? Is this not exactly wrong?

Please name future flying things after things or people not famously associated with fatal crashes..


Hey, at least he survived, pompomtom.

And, yeah: pure vaporware. Not even a damned drawing. Technobabble to attract venture capital $$, and media buzz.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:44 PM on June 24, 2011


Oops, missed the pics in the first link. OK, there's drawings. But no working model - not even an HO-scale one.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:46 PM on June 24, 2011


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