SNSF and Innosuisse support wind tunnels for drones

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The WindShaper 1 wind tunnel at the Caltech Center for Autonomous Systems and Te

The WindShaper 1 wind tunnel at the Caltech Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies... Photo: Windshape

The HES-SO has obtained its first BRIDGE Discovery funding from the SNSF and Innosuisse as the initiator of a project to measure and reproduce the atmospheric turbulence of UAV wind tunnels. Led by Flavio Noca, professor of aeronautics at HEPIA, the project will be carried out in collaboration with the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology.

The objective of the project is to develop algorithms for the pixel wind tunnels invented by Professor Noca and his former assistant Guillaume Catry and now marketed by the startup WindShape, which will allow the wind tunnel to learn to faithfully reproduce the environmental wind conditions.

The project will use the expertise of Petros Koumoutsakos at ETHZ, who pioneered machine learning methods in fluid mechanics in the 1990s. The measurements will be done by the faculty of Natural, Architectural, and Built Environment (ENAC) at EPFL.

In the years to come, the tool will benefit environmental sciences, but will also usher in a new era in aeronautics and air mobility. This wind tunnel with a brain will make it possible to test, develop, and certify all drones on the planet. A collaboration is already in place with the NUAIR Alliance drone certification center in New York State. Working contacts have been established with the world’s three largest global delivery companies and discussions are underway with the two largest aircraft manufacturers.

Support for disruptive ideas

BRIDGE is a program developed jointly by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and Innosuisse - the Swiss innovation promotion agency. At the interface between basic research and scientific innovation, it complements the support provided by these two organizations with its Proof of Concept programs, which are aimed at young researchers who wish to develop applications or new products.It complements the support provided by these two organizations with its Proof of Concept program, which is aimed at young researchers who wish to develop applications or services based on their own research results, and its Discovery program, which is aimed at experienced researchers who wish to explore and apply the innovation potential of their research results.

BRIDGE’s goal is to support disruptive ideas to create innovative industries and keep Switzerland as a leader in the world of science and technology.


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