Air Force Developing Morphing Aircraft – Idea For New Surgical Tools

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Researchers are aiming to find ways to enable aircraft to change shape during flight to improve performance or efficiency.

Modern materials are enabling engineers to take a fresh look at the idea of aircraft that can flex, twist or change shape to make them more maneuverable. NASA and the Defense Department are funding research programs to explore ideas.

Scientists hope to gain a better understanding of the basic physics of the components and subsystems that will be needed for the next generation of aircraft. The research includes evaluating flexible-skin concepts that have been proposed to enable wings to change shape, improving tools for simulating how morphing structures behave in flight, and looking at using devices within the wing skins to recover or “harvest” energy as the wings move.

I have toyed with a concept like this for years for surgical endoscopy tools. I can imagine two scenarios:

1) first is the concept of assembling tools inside a body cavity. I first thought of this when I was developing tools for microlaparoscopy (surgery with 2mm instruments) in the mid-90′s. Since I could not get many instruments I needed in that size we thought about somehow assembling them inside the body

2) a morphing instrument just like these aircraft. We are so fixated on static instruments. There is no reason we should think so conventionally. Why not develop an instrument that can change its configuration to meet different needs.

Just like the transformers surgical tools can be mutifunction in the future.

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