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Humans have wondered at flight since primeval times. Yet despite almost two centuries of designing machines to fly, birds still do it better in many ways. Dr Shane Windsor, a lecturer in Aerodynamics at the University of Bristol, is looking at how birds control their flight in windy conditions with the aim to improve the engineering of small-scale unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for use in and around urban areas.
What if a formation of wind turbines could learn to maximise airflows generated from the movement of other machines to improve their efficiency? What if planes could learn to fly to avoid turbulence? ERC grantee Philippe Chatelain uses artificial intelligence and solutions inspired by nature to answer these questions.
When the engines of a plane rev up and we are momentarily plunged into our seats, chances are that propulsion is due to a gas turbine. Although these energy generators are fundamental to industry, especially to aeronautics, their production of harmful exhaust gases is a cause of concern. ERC grantee Aimee Morgans works on making gas turbines greener.
How can we develop new materials that meet the extreme challenges of aerospace applications? Seizing the great potential of magnesium as a lightweight metal or making steels more resistant to failure and corrosion are two engineering challenges whose roots lie deep down at the atomic scale. Using models that bridge across scales from the atomic to the observable level, an ERC funded scientist investigates why materials behave and fail the way they do.
Spacecraft follow the same tendency as our computers to become continuously smaller, but more connected. In his ERC grant “NetSat”, Klaus Schilling, from the Zentrum für Telematik in Würzburg, studies control strategies for small pico-satellites in formation, in order to achieve the best performance through their cooperation.
Multifunctional nanoparticles being developed by EU-funded researchers are set to revolutionise treatments for complex bone diseases, enabling novel therapies for hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffering from bone cancer, bacterial bone infections and osteoporosis.
Space has a wealth of resources for humanity. Scientific missions enable new discoveries and increase knowledge of our solar system. Satellites orbiting around the Earth provide us with a broad range of services for telecommunications, weather forecasting, marine and air traffic, forest mapping, etc. However, intense space activity comes at a cost both in terms of energy consumption and dangerous space debris produced.
Can highly automated vehicles fare better than traditional cars in traffic gridlock conditions? Cooperation between vehicle intelligent transport systems via connected vehicles may provide a solution.
Will spacecraft follow a similar evolution to computers? While information processing in the last century was performed by large mainframe computers, today, networked smart phones dominate the market. In spacecraft engineering a similar paradigm shift is apparent: from traditional single, large, and multifunctional satellites towards groups of very small satellites that cooperate together. Professor Klaus Schilling, in his ERC project “NetSat”, addresses crucial challenges to enable small satellite formations to self-organise. This offers innovative application perspectives in areas like Earth observation, science exploration or telecommunications.
Epithelial tissues cover all body surfaces and line most of our organs, internal cavities and passageways, including the digestive tract. Prof. Elena Martínez is engineering intestinal epithelial tissues that mimic the physiological characteristics of human intestinal tissue with the aim of advancing the in vitro modelling of diseases, the preclinical screening for drug efficacy and toxicity, and the understanding of organ development.