2016/12/16

Feathered wings increase precision of birds flight

Feathered wings increase the precision of birds flight

"It is extremely difficult to find the right balance between aerodynamic efficiency and the weight of the device," explained Stefano Mintchev. 

http://phys.org/news/2016-12-drone-flies-bird.html

Excerpt: "A drone has been equipped with feathers to increase its precision during flight. The bio-inspired device can spread or close its wings while flying, making it easier to maneuver and more resistant in high winds.


When they need to change direction, increase their speed or counter headwinds, birds alter the configuration of their wings. To steer, for example, they spread one wing and slightly retract the other. By adjusting their wingspan in this way, they create a calculated imbalance that causes them to turn. Up to now, only birds could do this so effectively.
After observing birds in flight, researchers from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems had the idea of building an energy-efficient winged  capable of changing its wingspan, flying at high speed and moving through tight spaces. Their research has just been published in the Royal Society journal Interface Focus.
Dario Floreano and his team wanted to develop a bio-inspired drone that could meet various aerodynamic requirements. It had to be capable of flying between obstacles, making sharp turns and coping with strong winds. By changing its geometry mid-flight, the drone can meet all these criteria. The moving part is located on the outer wings. It works like a bird's quill feathers, which are the large feathers at the edge of the wing."

My comment: Engineers are challenged to mimic intelligent solutions like energy efficient feathered wings. It's extremely difficult to design and construct an aerodynamically balanced and accurately working wing structure. Birds have several other intelligent solutions that help us understand that it's impossible for them to evolve:

- Birds don't collide when flying in dense flocks at very high speeds. 

- Birds have incredible navigation mechanisms. The most fascinating one is the quantum entanglement based navigation system within the European Robin.

http://www.sciencealert.com/watch-this-is-how-birds-use-quantum-mechanics-to-navigate

"The theory goes that electrons in the receptor cells of birds’ eyes can change their spin,
and therefore their state of entanglement with other electrons, based on the Earth’s gravitational field. And depending on which way they’re flying in relation to this field, the electrons will either absorb energy from the Sun or release it back into the optic nerve.
This is amazing, not only because it’s a quantum phenomenon taking place inside the cells of a living creature, but also because it may mean that birds can SEE quantum entanglement - something our best scientists can barely visualise.

This also means that they may be able to see with their own eyes whether they’re going west or north, sort of like an inbuilt, Google Glass-style compass. And that. is. mind-blowing."