Solid-state drones

Year 2020
A design of a drone
Noise from drones limits applications
10 seconds of near-silent flight possible
30 minute flight with payload is next goal

Near-silent propulsion

Small autonomous aircraft, or drones, are being used widely. A major limitation in many potential applications is the noise from drone propellers. This team demonstrated in 2018 the first flight of a solid-state airplane (i.e., no moving parts), and showed that near-silent drone propulsion is possible for an approximately 10-second indoor flight. Since then, the team has developed the propulsion and power electronics technology needed for potentially useful missions. This project will focus on building and demonstrating a small drone that flies outside for 10 to 30 minutes, carrying a useful payload. Current uses of drones include medical supply delivery and surveillance, while potential uses include package delivery, building and structural inspection, environmental monitoring, and microdrones for indoor and military surveillance.

MIT engineers fly first-ever plane with no moving parts

The silent, lightweight aircraft doesn’t depend on fossil fuels.

Undistorted camera footage from unpowered glide 2; position and energy from camera tracking annotated. Credit: Steven Barrett
Jamie Abel presents “Solid-state drones” at IdeaStream 2022