Kota founded FlexSys Inc in 2001 to transition the distributed compliant design technology to marketplace. The most significant application of Kota’s compliant systems design has been to bring to fruition decades-long goal of the aerospace community—changing the shape of an aircraft wing in-flight to maximize performance and fuel efficiency under all flight conditions.
Kota was the world’s first (and the only one known to-date since Wright brothers) to demonstrate practical real-world variable geometry seamless shape-changing wings that eliminated the need for discrete flaps.
A Gulfstream business jet retrofitted with two 22-feet span shape adaptive control surfaces (no flaps) based on his invention and developed at FlexSys, was successfully flight tested by NASA and Air Force (a $50 million effort) in November 2014.
Aviation Week, BBC, Business Week, CNN, Fox News, Popular Mechanics and over 200 other media outlets (756,000 Google search results) worldwide covered this historic flight in Nov/Dec 2014.
This invention is considered as a major milestone in aircraft design and is expected to save 4-12% in fuel in an industry that spends over $200 billion yearly on jet fuel, and where improvements of mere 1% are considered significant.
Kota’s FlexFoil™ technology also eliminates the gaps that produce airframe noise. Data from 2016/17 NASA flight tests confirmed that the Gulfstream business jet retrofitted with seamless FlexFoil control surfaces demonstrated a 40% reduction in aircraft noise during landing.
FlexFoil exemplifies the principle of Kota’s distributed complaint design that strength and structural flexibility can be simultaneously achieved—it bends and twists on demand while sustaining 24,000 lbs. of airload.
The success of shape changing wing is directly related to his pioneering concept and the method of compliant design of kinematic structures (or joint-less mechanisms) with distributed compliance.
Additionally, prototypes for dynamic shape morphing helicopter blades with variable geometry leading and trailing edges have also been successfully demonstrated. Shape adaptive trailing edges for utility scale wind turbine blades have also been developed that, according to analysis carried out at the Sandia National Laboratories, offer 14% increase in energy capture and 70% reduction in fatigue loads.
Learn more about FlexSys.
Aviation Week featured Shape Changing Wing technology
Demonstrated at the 2016 National Business Aviation Association.