Jack Langelaan, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), is hoping to create unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) inspired by birds.
‘The aim is to more closely mimic the aerial performance of birds,’ according to an article by Penn State.
Langelaan notes two specific avian techniques that he is looking to imitate. The first is dynamic soaring, which albatrosses do by ‘taking advantage of vertical wind shear – the difference in wind speed with changing altitude – to stay aloft for days and fly for thousands of miles over open ocean while hardly flapping [their] wings.’
The other technique hinges on how hawks and vultures use thermals to fly. Penn State says thermals occur ‘where the sun heats up the ground unevenly, resulting in hot spots that combine with an unstable atmosphere to create pockets of rising air.’
The full article can be found here.