Under the watchful eyes of five high-speed cameras, a small, pale-blue bird named Gary waits for the signal to fly.
Under the watchful eyes of five high-speed cameras, a small, pale-blue bird named Gary waits for the signal to fly. Diana Chin, a graduate student at Stanford University and Gary’s trainer, points her finger to a perch about 20 inches away. The catch here is that the perch is covered in Teflon, making it seemingly impossible to stably grasp.
Gary’s successful touchdown on the Teflon – and on other perches of varying materials – is teaching researchers how they might create machines that land like a bird.
“Modern aerial robots usually need either a runway or a flat surface for easy takeoff and landing. For a bird, almost everywhere is a potential landing spot, even in cities,” said Chin, who is part of the lab of David Lentink, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “We really wanted to understand how they accomplish that and the dynamics and forces that are involved.”
Even the most advanced robots come nowhere near the grasping ability of animals when dealing with objects of varying shapes, sizes and textures. So, the researchers gathered data about how Gary and two other birds land on different kinds of surfaces, including a variety of natural perches and artificial perches covered in foam, sandpaper and Teflon.
Read more at Stanford University