The shape-changing wings are an alternative to flaps, whose hard edges generate drag and noise. That drag is, at times, sort of the point. Looking out a wing seat on a jetliner as it lands, it’s possible to see the flaps angling down to increase the size of the wing and slow the speed of the plane as it lands. The flexible edge still allows this, bending and contorting in drag-increasing ways when needed, but it does it all under a smooth, continuous surface. Servos and actuators inside the flexible shell of the aircraft pull strings that then contort the wings’ surface, bending and warping to produce an effect similar to mechanical flaps. The smooth wings promise to be more aerodynamic in flight, which helps to save on fuel.