G.A. ten Brinke

Next-Gen Flying Robots Inspired by Birds, Bees : Discovery News

Photo of Bat in FlightPhoto of Hummingbird

April 9, 2009 — Flying, flapping robots could soon get an upgrade, thanks to new research that reveals the deceptively simple mechanism used by bats, birds and bugs to turn in flight.

“Why are animals so much better at maneuvering and recovering from perturbations than our human-designed flight systems?” asked Tyson Hedrick, a professor of biology at the University of North Carolina and an author of the study, which appears in the current issue of Science.

“From fruit flies through hummingbirds to larger birds and bats, we tried to uncover the fundamental aspects of turning in flight,” he said.

The study is the first to examine how various flying creatures can turn in midair without crashing to the ground. Previous studies of animal flight have mostly focused on how they manage to stay aloft at all.

More one Discovery channel

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