Leonardo Da Vinci was the quintessential polymath. Considered the archetype of the Renaissance man, Da Vinci developed, among many other things, the design of an aircraft when they did not yet exist.
At the end of 1480, da Vinci carried out an ingenious design very similar to that of a modern helicopter, but for a single crew member. This design, called the aerial screw, bases its operation on that of the screws and is considered the precursor to the modern helicopter.
In 2019, a team of engineers from the University of Maryland used da Vinci’s sketches to create a fully functional drone. The drone, called the Crimson Spin, has four plastic wings inspired by da Vinci’s idea to push against the air to take flight.
Don't expect this Leonardo da Vinci-inspired quadcopter to revolutionize drones or flying taxis. But it is really cool that 1. the original design actually did work and 2. people had the curiosity and dedication to build it and understand it. https://t.co/d9QzaUFbe0 pic.twitter.com/LqP61FoeSk
— Stephen Shankland (@stshank) January 31, 2022
The team presented the prototype at the conference Transformative Vertical Flight 2022 in San Jose, California, last week. One of its creators, Austin Prete, told CNET that he was absolutely amazed that it worked. Prete and other team members were initially skeptical of the project, but became enthusiastic after running some simulations on their computers and seeing that it could pull through.
Although it is only a small drone, its creators say that this technology could work with an aircraft capable of carrying a human being, if the relevant geometry optimizations and research on performance in different flight regimes are carried out. They consider that the research could continue at the University of Maryland, but for this they say that “interest and of course, funding is needed.”