PI: Keith Moored

University: Lehigh University

The delivery of relief supplies to disaster zones is of prime importance, especially in our current era of accelerated climate change. Larger wildfires, more floods, and more intense hurricanes have stretched our capabilities to respond to these ever-more-dire disasters. For example, when Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico, power was knocked out for extended periods of time in some parts of the island; remote villages were inaccessible and lacked communications without power. Airdropping supplies into environments like these in a targeted manner can be difficult and imprecise, especially with adverse weather conditions and small target landing zones. Instead, we need a novel technology such as a controlled auto-rotator delivery system with greater precision to deliver two-way radios, water, and food to aid in disaster relief efforts. This team is proposing such a system that is inspired from samara seeds, which are auto-rotating rotor systems that have naturally evolved to aid in the long-distance dispersal of seeds from many trees, such as maples. Our goals are to develop a lift-based auto-rotator system that has slow descent rates and has a controllable rotor hub through a simple swashplate mechanism. Such a system would be able to have controllable and precise landing in areas or during adverse weather that is difficult for conventional airdrops.