A new wing design could make small, fixed-wing drones more stable and efficient. (Credit: Breuer Lab/Brown University)

Brown University researchers have developed a new wing design for small drones that could make them far more stable and efficient. The wing replaces the smooth contour found on the leading edges of most airplane wings with a thick, flat plate and a sharp leading edge.

The idea was inspired by natural flyers like birds and insects. The new wing — dubbed the “Separated Flow Airfoil” — provides more consistent lift and overall better performance.