Swiftly does it

Dutch Aerospace Engineering students at the Delft University of Technology, with the Department of Experimental Zoology at Wageningen University, have designed an aircraft that flies like a common swift


Dutch Aerospace Engineering students at the Delft University of Technology, with the Department of Experimental Zoology at Wageningen University, have designed an aircraft that flies like a commonswift.


RoboSwift is a micro aeroplane fitted with shape shifting wings, inspired by the common swift. It features a wing geometry and wing surface area that can be adjusted continuously. With a 50cm span and weighing 80g, lithium-polymer batteries power the aircraft’s electromotor, which enables it to follow a group of swifts for up to 20 minutes.


The flexible wing design has a ‘morphing’ quality using four feathers, which means that the wings can be swept back in flight by folding feathers over each other, thus changing the wing shape and reducing the wing surface area, depending on the flight conditions. RoboSwift also steers by morphing its wings, that is, sweeping one wing back further than to create a difference in lift on the wings, which rolls and turns the micro plane in the air.


Roboswift is equipped with three micro cameras that can be used for surveillance on vehicles and people on the ground, or to observe swifts in flight for biological research.


The students will build the aeroplane and ready it for flight by January 2008. They will also build three RoboSwifts to participate in the first American-Asian Micro Air Vehicle competition in India.