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Technology Pigeon-inspired drone bends its wings to make it more agile

17:31  17 january  2020
17:31  17 january  2020 Source:   engadget.com

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Researchers bent and extended the wings of dead pigeons to investigate how the birds control L. Matloff et al/Science 2020. Besides laying the groundwork for building more graceful drones A robotic pigeon that can change its wing shape like a real bird paves the way for creating more agile

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To be able to develop unmanned aerial systems (UAS) more maneuverable than current models, roboticists are drawing inspiration from birds. A team of researchers from Stanford University's Lentink Lab, for instance, has built a robotic pigeon aptly called PigeonBot, which can bend, extend and simply change the shape of its wings like real birds can. Machines that can move their wings like real birds can make tighter turns in smaller spaces and can better navigate rougher winds, Dario Floreano, a roboticist from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, told ScienceNews.

a helicopter flying over a field

"Birds can dynamically alter the shape of their wings during flight, although how this is accomplished is poorly understood," the researchers wrote in one of the studies they published. So, they used dead pigeons to study how birds bend and extend their wings to change their shape.

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By studying pigeon wings in a wind tunnel, the researchers determined that wrist Flight tests showed the PigeonBot (pictured) was able to make turns at sharp angles, much like a real bird. Conventional wings used in robotics and aeronautics are often rigid whereas a bird's are agile and bendable This

A feather- winged drone has been built by researchers in the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (LIS) They reduce wind resistance by retracting their feathers and they perform agile maneuvers at lower And, like the wings of birds, bats, and insects, the drone ’s wings can be folded to occupy less space

What they found was that the angle of a bird's wrist and finger determines the alignment of its flight feathers and, hence, the shape of its wings. It's by pulling their wrist and finger together or spreading them apart that pigeons can manage tight turns and fly through turbulence. The researchers then used that knowledge to build a remote-controlled robotic pigeon -- they even used real feathers for the machine.

Scientists could use the machine to study bird flight. Any future findings can then be used to build even better drones that can reach places and fly in conditions more standard unmanned flying systems can't.

ScienceRobotics, Science

Bird-inspired wings could help small drones fly four times longer .
Small drones seldom last more than half an hour in the air due to their inefficiency. They frequently have short, thick wings that help them survive wind gusts, but are terrible for range. However, scientists might have a way to make drones last: borrow another cue from nature. Researchers at Brown University and EPFL have developed a bird-inspired wing design that can deliver just under 3 hours of flight for a tiny 100g (3.5oz) drone, four times what you'd get from comparable fliers, without sacrificing stability. Effectively, it recognizes that common wisdom surrounding wings doesn't apply when the wingspan is a foot or less.

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