From: Eric Bland, Discovery News
Published April 13, 2009 09:02 AM

Bird Maneuvers Inspire Next-Gen Flying Robots

Flying, flapping robots could soon get an upgrade, thanks to new research that reveals the deceptively simple mechanism used by bats, birds and bugs to turn in flight.

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"Why are animals so much better at maneuvering and recovering from perturbations than our human-designed flight systems?" asked Tyson Hedrick, a professor of biology at the University of North Carolina and an author of the study, which appears in the current issue of Science.

"From fruit flies through hummingbirds to larger birds and bats, we tried to uncover the fundamental aspects of turning in flight," he said.

The study is the first to examine how various flying creatures can turn in midair without crashing to the ground. Previous studies of animal flight have mostly focused on how they manage to stay aloft at all.

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