Da Capo Innovations Flexes and Soars


Da Capo Innovations, Inc. of New York City is developing a flexible, retractable mechanism for soft robotics and the wings of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Dr. Alan Shih, the company’s founder, is an expert in aerospace technology who finds inspiration in the beauty of the natural world. The term “Da Capo” is an Italian musical term meaning “from the beginning.”

UAVs, or drones, are remotely-piloted autonomous aerial vehicles. The technology that Dr. Shih envisions for drone wings also applies to soft robotics, a subfield of robotics that uses compliant materials instead of rigid links. For drones and robots with flexible, retractable features, the benefits include reduced storage space and the ability to navigate through narrow passageways.

With FuzeHub’s support, we were able to get working prototypes and understand how these devices will behave.
Dr. Alan Shih

The Challenge

Da Capo Innovations wanted to turn its ideas into reality with a proof-of-concept model. The company could then use this working prototype to evaluate its design and inform subsequent product development efforts. Paying for prototyping was part of the challenge, as was finding a suitable partner.

The Solution

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at City College of New York (CCNY) applied for and received a 2022 Manufacturing Grant in partnership with Da Capo Innovations. This $15,253 award from FuzeHub’s Jeff Lawrence Innovation Fund paid for the prototyping of a flexible and retractable wing structure with internal air channels and varying wall thickness.

Outcomes / The Impact

In January 2024, the City University of New York (CUNY) Technology Commercialization Office submitted a provisional patent application for this innovative design. In addition to seeking Intellectual Property (IP) protection, Da Capo Innovations and its university-based partner are continuing their focus on research and development (R&D) with the design of a soft robotic gripper.

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