Birds and bees inspire drones

Washington: Drones of the future will not just deliver pizzas or take a dog to a morning walk, they could be as tiny as insects, enter cramped places for rescue operations or fly like birds when searching vast expanses of land.

Next-gen drones will be able to withstand extreme heat and cold
Next-gen drones will be able to withstand extreme heat and cold

Researchers across the world are now taking inspiration from birds, bats, insects and snakes to build next-generation drones that can even withstand extreme heat, freezing cold, torrential rain or thunderstorms. A group of researchers from Harvard University have also developed a millimetre-sized drone with a view to using it to explore extremely cramped and tight spaces.

The most challenging problem for airborne robots will be strong winds and whirlwinds. A US research team has begun to tackle this by studying the hawk moth. In their study, the researchers flew hawk moths through a number of different whirlwind conditions in a vortex chamber, carefully examining the mechanisms that the hawk moths used to successfully regain flight control.

Another team has found a way of reducing the amount of power that is required to operate drones by creating a ‘jumpglider’. Inspired by vertebrates such as the flying squirrel, the flying fish and the flying snake, the ‘jumpglider’ combines an aeroplane-shaped body with a spring-based mechanical foot that propels the robot into the air. The findings appeared in a special edition of the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

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