Ohio State Researchers Develop Smart Wind Sensor for Drones

A team of researchers at the Ohio State University has designed a smart wind sensor that could one day be used on drones and other small, autonomous aircraft, which are poised to become fixtures of daily life.

As these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) become increasingly prevalent, keeping the air space they use safe will become a priority, and wind sensors — anemometers — play a critical role in ensuring the safety of the simultaneous takeoffs and landings that are expected.

Current anemometers like the pitot tube are mostly unsuitable for UAVs — smaller ones in particular — because of high power consumption, aerodynamic drag, complex signal processing and expense.

The Ohio State anemometer seeks to fill this technology gap by using smart materials and an aerodynamic shape, according to a research paper, “Airfoil Anemometer With Integrated Flexible Piezo-Capacitive Pressure Sensor,” which was recently published in the journal Frontiers in Materials.