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Flight-testing is scheduled to begin in 2011 on a morphed wing prototype for unmanned air vehicles using in-built shape memory alloy actuators that deform the shape of the wing when heated.

The prototype is being developed by MIE on behalf of Singaporean defence research and development institution DSO National Laboratories.

“The major difference to the traditional discrete morphed wing design that uses flaps and ailerons with excessive complexity and weight penalty is that we’re using smart materials such as shape memory alloys,” says Professor Shaker Meguid (MIE), who is heading the research program.

“We … instruct the wing to sweep backwards and achieve very high rates of deformation and change in area, even though the actuators undergo very small deformations. Furthermore, the actuators constitute part of the wing spar structure – this is the ingenuity of our new design.”

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