By Nathaniel Scharping
For all of their high-tech accolades, drones are still easily batted around by capricious air currents. Drones, as they’re currently designed, aren’t nimble enough to adapt to split-second changes in air pressure and velocity, making flying in rough conditions something of a headache.
One Stanford researcher thinks he has a way to solve the problem, and to do so, he turned to a animals that solved the issue of turbulence long ago: birds.
Using a specially designed wind tunnel, David Lentink is studying how birds fly under a variety of conditions using ultra-slow-motion cameras and motion capture technology. The wind tunnel simulates different levels and forms of turbulence, and Lentink studies how birds adapt their wing motions and speeds to deal with tricky situations.