Scientists using nature to design the next generation of drones

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The next generation of flying robotic drones may resemble some of nature’s most familiar airborne creatures.

In a special issue of the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, 14 research teams released a number of new experimental drone designs, which reportedly possess exquisite flight control and can overcome many of the problems drones may face when navigating urban terrain.

The researchers said they took their design cues from nature, by closely examining animals such as birds, bats, insects — and even land dwelling snakes.

“Flying animals can be found everywhere in our cities,” guest editor Dr. David Lentink, from Stanford University, wrote in an opening editorial. “From scavenging pigeons to alcohol-sniffing fruit flies that make precision landings on our wine glasses, these animals have quickly learnt how to control their flight through urban environments to exploit our resources.”

According to the report, one of the biggest challenges facing robotic drones is the ability to survive the elements, such as extreme heat, bitter cold and especially strong winds.

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