Most of us have probably witnessed an airplane flying in the sky. We all remember the noise it makes, the gaseous fumes it leaves behind. What if a plane would quite simply glide, making no sound, releasing no smoke and using very little energy in the process. For this to work it must also be light as a feather so this means no passengers on board or any other large baggage. That is what the autopilot system on the new glider created by NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and the Australian Center for Field Robotics in Sydney.
Using the accelerometer and altimeter the autopilot can work out and create a local wind map of varying speeds and directions. The inventors say that the greatest danger to the plane can actually be the wear and tear caused by friction, heat and air resistance. This glider could be another example of benefits gained from observing nature.