Scientists transform dead birds into drones that could be used for 'military spying'
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Featured Image Credit: Mostafa Hassanalian/New Mexico Tech
Researchers have devised a way to make taxidermied birds into flapping drones that would help them better understand how wildlife works.
According to Dr Mostafa Hassanalian and grad student Amier Mirzaeinia, these new drones could be the more efficient way to study how migratory birds conserve energy.
While the main focus of research is going into how these drones could help experts study wildlife, New Science says it could also be expanded down the line to help militaries and their spying programs.
Dr Hassanalian said that's a long way down the line as their prototype is fairly loud.
"Sometimes you don’t want people to find out that this is a drone," Hassanalian explained to New Science.
Dr Hassanalian and New Mexico Tech colleagues have used taxidermy bird parts with artificial flapping drone mechanisms so that it looks as real life as possible.
The birds can hover like a hummingbird and glide without flapping their wings.
Researchers said while it’s challenging to create such a drone, 'it is very practical for research purposes and can keep nature undisturbed'.
In the report, Dr Hassanalian noted that birds could conserve more than 40 per cent of their energy by flying in formation and switching positions regularly and can cover 2,000 km in two days.
By observing migratory birds, researchers will also learn how to apply their methods to aircraft.
“We want to apply machine learning to this mechanism,” he said in a statement.
“We want to know how birds know when to rotate. If we program drones with our control algorithm, we can get the same benefit as birds. And we can use these algorithms for different types of drones,” he added.
They have already conducted two test flights with peasant-looking drones.
So far, their research has shown that while using the same formation as birds, drones can conserve up to 70 per cent more energy.
He added that if we could merge flights and make a similar V formation, it would offer a sustainable solution as it consumes 40 per cent less fuel.
Dr Hassanalian revealed it could even be available for commercial flights as well.
Research has also found that specific gear changes to the mechanism can lead to longevity and noise reduction.
The study added that these alterations could be applied to aircraft to make the flight experience more seamless.
“This is research is ongoing and we are always thinking about the next 100 years. So, once we get auto-navigation, airplanes could form a V formation and mimic migratory birds. If we program them with control algorithms, we can get the same benefit as birds,” he added.
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