The mystery of how birds fly, morphing their wings into a variety of shapes that allow unparalleled feats of soaring and diving, has finally been solved by scientists.
Researchers at Stanford University said they had studied the wings of common pigeon cadavers, then used their findings to build a radio-controlled robot with wings made with 40 real feathers. Roboticists have tried to replicate feathery fliers for nearly two decades, but these efforts have been hindered by use of rigid feather-like panels and a lack of understanding of the skeletal and muscular mechanics behind birds' highly morphable wings.
And they found that the structures were present in most species of birds other than owls, which allowed them to fly more silently.More news: Iran's Ayatollah Slams 'American Clowns' In Rare Friday Prayers Sermon
Ultimately, the motions bird wings make are seen as far superior to those of an aircraft: "It actually enables birds to fly further, longer, maneuver much better", says David Lentink, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University.
Just like Velcro used in fasternings, it is even possible to hear the distinctive "ripping" sound as feathers are pulled apart again and folded back in the bird's body, scientists discovered. The wing shape and the positions of the feathers are super complex and it is extremely hard to get cognizance of how the structure helps the birds free-fly.
"Birds can dynamically alter the form of their wings within the midst of flight, although how right here is done is poorly understood", the researchers wrote in one of the significant studies they printed. The team then used what they found to create the PigeonBot. The pigeon feathers were connected to artificial wrists and fingers via synthetic elastic ligaments.More news: Ukraine PM submits shock resignation letter after criticising president
"Since the Wright brothers, aerospace engineers have tried to create wings that can change shape, or morph, as well as birds can morph their wings", said Lentink.
"These structures automatically unlock during flexion (when the bird draws its wings in)". He said that one student - Amanda Stowers studied the wrist and finger motion of the robot, another student -Laura Matloff studied how the feathers moved in response to its bone movement and the movement of the feathers. These and other findings were published in Science, while the robot itself, devised by "the third student", Eric Chang, is described in Science Robotics.
As Science News reports, the experiments showed that the angles of two wing joints have the biggest impact on the alignment of a wing's flight feathers. Moreover, they are also working on a new bio-inspired robot inspired by falcons which may have legs and claws, according to reports.More news: Clinton prosecutor Ken Starr to defend Trump in impeachment