Flying Robots: From turbulent navigation, to the half-asleep flight, to the flight without sound, the flight adaptations of the animals are helping scientists to design better flying robots.
Airborne drones and imitating animals appear in 18 new studies published Dec. 15 in Interface Focus magazine. This special issue aims to “inspire the development of new airborne robots and showcase of animal flight studies current status,” said editor David Lentink, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University in California .
Although humans have been building flying machines since the eighteenth century, these new studies revealed that much remains to be learned by observing how birds, insects and bats take flight, stand tall and maneuver for safe landings.
Flying drones are fast becoming a common sight all over the world. They are used to photograph glorious views from above, clog selfies and even deliver packages, as giant online giant Amazon completed its first commercial delivery per drone in Cambridge, UK, on Dec. 7, the BBC reported.
But improving the way these robots fly is not easy, experts said. Approximately 10,000 species of birds; 4,000 species of bats; And more than 1 million species of insects have evolved over millions of years to spread their wings and take in air, and most of the flight adaptations of these species have not been studied at all, Lentink told Live Science.
“Many people think that they all know about the flight as they know how to design airplanes” said Lentink. But once humans were able to successfully design planes and rockets, they stopped looking at flying animals as they had in the past, he added.
Now, however, the growing demand for small, manageable flying robots that can perform a variety of tasks has triggered a scientific “rebirth” and is leading researchers to investigate many open-ended questions about aerodynamics and animal biology, Lentink said.
Some studies describe new robot designs that can sink into watery depths from the air, break through hurricane winds or bend their wings like a bird, for better control.
Silent flight, energy conservation and renewal, adaptation to turbulent conditions and the ability to self-repair wing damage are features that could significantly improve current unmanned aircraft models, Lentink told Live Science.