Optimizing airplane components for mass while ensuring the part will still be strong enough to stand up to the heavy loads experienced during flight requires the use of powerful computational optimization software. This software must have the capabilities of modeling a part’s behavior when various changes are made to the geometric design that would affect the part’s final mass. Although this specialized software is very powerful, it can be complicated and difficult to use. After exploring the optimization process, the Boeing-Olin SCOPE team identified areas of opportunities within the method, and decided to focus on the learning process.
The MIT Lincoln Laboratory 2011-2012 SCOPE team was tasked with identifying an opportunity in the field of robotics for a novel and unique system, then building a proof-of-concept prototype for that system. Inspired by gannet birds, Morus bassanus, which are capable of a rapid, powerful and streamlined transition from air to water, the team chose to create a remote controlled vehicle that is flight capable and is able to fold its wings, plunge-dive into water and navigate underwater. The proof-of-concept system offers insight into the challenges of designing such a unique system and paves the way for building more advanced and more capable systems in the future.