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.
Microwaves are widely employed in the technologies we use in our daily life - from global navigation systems (like GPS or Galileo), to the satellites used for the weather forecast. They are also important for more ambitious endeavors such as space navigation. The work of Prof. Yanne Chembo has contributed to the next generation of microwaves.
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.
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.
Nature is a major source of inspiration for scientists. ERC grantee Giulia Lanzara is one of them. The unique sensing and shaping abilities of birds, dolphins and other living creatures inspired her to engineer novel multifunctional materials which could make a difference in a wide variety of industrial fields.
The advanced technologies designed by researchers working on the SURFUND project go beyond the current state-of-the-art techniques in metrology, the science of measurements applied to manufacturing and other industrial processes. These novel measurement tools could have a large application potential in optics, aerospace, automotive, precision engineering, electronics and biotech industry and they have already attracted the attention of several companies working in these fields.The innovations generated by this ERC project could bring significant economic benefits to Europe.