When bird meets machine, bioinspired flight

When bird meets machine, bioinspired flight

Working at a crossroad between biology and engineering, scientists have modeled and are now mimicking the ingenious natural design of falling geckoes, gliding snakes, cruising seagulls, flapping insects and floating maple seeds to improve the design of air vehicles.

IOP Publishing's Bioinspiration & Biomimetics publishes a special edition today, Wednesday 24 November 2010, entitled Bioinspired Flight, comprising of nine journal papers which display the wealth of knowledge being accrued by researchers in the field.

Nature outclasses man's best efforts at robotic flight, as even the geometry and descent dynamics of a simple maple seed lead one research team from the University of Maryland, led by Dr. Evan Ulrich, to show that micro helicopters could be much simplified by imitating the maple seed's wing pitch for controlled hovering and, surprisingly, forward flight.

The issue, starting with two papers on tactics employed for controlled descent by geckoes and flying snakes, is accompanied by a selection of films - four of which are available on YouTube.

The first film, from a team led by graduate student Ardian Jusufi from UC Berkeley, shows how researchers have studied the gecko's trick of employing its tail to right and turn itself mid-air, helping it always fall on its feet, and have now made a robot model gecko which can employ the same grace on descent.

Gecko fall. How mid-air righting gecko inspires robot gecko that can right itself during free fall. Credits: Ardian Jusufi and co-workers

A second film from Professor Jake Socha and his team at Virginia Tech displays the mystifying skills of flying snakes, which direct their flight mid-air by slithering.

Compilation of high-speed video's of flying snakes Chrysopelea paradisi. Credits: Courtesy of National Geographic Television; compiled by Jake Socha

Moving on from tactical descent, the special edition also covers humming birds' perfect hover; birds' intuitive exploitation of thermal updrafts; the mechanical motion of insects' wings, and seagulls' magnificent sense of flight environment, which allows them incredible angles of attack and increased control in crosswinds.

Thorax design of the Harvard robot fly for powering and controlling its wingbeat. Credit: Benjamin Finio and Robert Wood

As the special edition's editor, Professor David Lentink from Wageningen University, writes in an accompanying editorial, "Because biologists and engineers are typically trained quite differently, there is a gap between the understanding of natural of biologists and the engineer's expertise in designing vehicles that function well. In the middle however is a few pioneering engineers who are able to bridge both fields."


Explore further

Maple seeds and animals exploit the same trick to fly (w/Video)

More information: All articles in the special edition will be available to read from Wednesday 24 November at iopscience.iop.org/1748-3190/5/4
Citation: When bird meets machine, bioinspired flight (2010, November 24) retrieved 25 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-11-bird-machine-bioinspired-flight.html
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Nov 24, 2010
the ingenious natural design of falling geckoes, gliding snakes, cruising seagulls

Thank you for acknowledging that these creatures display clear and unmistakable signs of design. Design implies intelligence with clear intent and purpose, so then these designs comes from an ingenious intelligent person of some kind.

Evolution does NOT work by design; having evolution and design in the same sentence/breath and equating the machinations of evolution to design is a first class oxymoron.

Please decide - either evolution is a random unguided process or else it must be some intelligent creator. You can't have an intelligent evolutionary process intent on solving problems to achieve a particular goal. Period.


Nov 24, 2010
Nature outclasses man's best efforts at robotic flight

...And other areas of course...e.g. energy production methods. Take for instance ATP synthase, the tiny, tiny, little motor that powers ALL living organisms, that operates at near 100% efficiency.

Or take photosynthesis taking place eveywhere, capturing photons of light and ultimately creating ATP, used everywhere one can think of.

The point here is that there couldn't have been a spontaneous creation of life because there would have needed to be a generator of energy at the nano scale before anything else could work. And unfortunately these generators themselves require that all the rest be in place for them to exist in the first instance. A real, terrible, gut-wrenching chicken-and-egg situation for evolutionists to resolve: you can't power the enzymes without ATP synthase and you can't have ATP-Synthase without the enzymes. Have fun resolving that.
We were created. Period.


Nov 24, 2010
Design implies intelligence with clear intent and purpose, so then these designs comes from an ingenious intelligent person of some kind.
Nope, it doesn't. Ever hear of emergence?

Kev, if you think you have to sit on a science site and attempt to dissect theories that you don't understand to "strengthen your faith" perhaps you are the one who has no faith in the first place.

Nov 24, 2010
A real, terrible, gut-wrenching chicken-and-egg situation for evolutionists to resolve: you can't power the enzymes without ATP synthase and you can't have ATP-Synthase without the enzymes. Have fun resolving that.

Enzymes are catalysts. They speed up chemical reactions by bringing the reactants together, not by supplying extra energy to the reaction. Very few enzymes need to be "powered" by ATP.

Then there's the matter of whether all living cells use ATP synthase to create ATP. They don't -- look up substrate-level phosphorylation.

Another kevinrtrs argument scuppered by facts.

Nov 24, 2010
Thank you for acknowledging that these creatures display clear and unmistakable signs of design.


Yes, they were designed by evolution. What's the difficulty in understanding this, seriously?

Nov 25, 2010
Design implies intelligence with clear intent and purpose

Were you designed?, because I can't discern any intelligence, rational intent nor any purpose to your rants.

Nov 28, 2010
wow at creationist troll lol

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