Bird inspires aircraft that can fly, hover and glide

July 3rd, 2011 - 3:09 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 3 (IANS) A new versatile design of micro air vehicle (MAV) is inspired by a particular bird called Swift.

This design of MAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles, would enable them to flap their wings, hover and glide to ensure good quality images from any on-board camera.

“In birds, the combination of demanding tasks like take-off, travelling long distances, manoeuvring in confined areas and landing is daily practice,” explains doctoral researcher William Thielicke, from Biomimetics-Innovation-Centre in Germany, involved with the project.

“This innovative design was inspired by one bird in particular, the Swift. We know that Swifts are very manoeuvrable and they can glide very efficiently,” adds Thielicke.

“So we thought these birds would be a very good starting point for an energy efficient flapping-wing MAV,” says Thielicke, according to an Innovation Centre statement.

While fixed wing MAVs are energy efficient, their manoeuvrability is low.

The new design would allow the flapping wing MAV to glide, improving energy efficiency and ensuring good images but when needed it can also slow its flight and manoeuvre in confined spaces.

“Although the models are not yet ready to be used, initial tests are positive and we hope that this design will combine the best of both worlds,” says Thielicke.

These findings were presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual
Conference in Glasgow Saturday.

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