Drone Project Modeled From Incredible Images of Birds in Flight
Stanford University students are capturing incredible images of birds in mid-flight in order to study their movements, behavior, and ultimately create the ideal drone. The ultra-high-speed Phantom camera they use can shoot upwards of 3,300 frames per second at full resolution, and an amazing 650,000 at a tiny resolution, which enables the students to capture the incredibly intricate movements of a bird in flight.
Professor David Lentink, who oversees the project, says: “Our camera shoots 100 times faster than humans’ vision refresh rate. We can spread a single wing beat across 40 frames, and see incredible things.”
The purpose of studying the birds is to capture their biomechanical behavior mid-flight and apply the findings to enhance robot design. Professor Lentink explains many drones can be disrupted by a slight gust of wind, but a bird can use its wings to stay airborne. The incredibly detailed images of the birds in flight may provide the key to why robots can’t fly in the same manner.
With the help of the images caught on tape, the students and their supervisors are hoping to develop an ideal search-and-rescue robot, one that can adapt to an unpredictable environment and incorporate the best characteristics of each bird studied.
The Stanford researchers now want to give people the opportunity to film the birds themselves. Their project “Flight Artists” will give Bay Area birders access to Lentink’s camera.
“We’d like to pair the camera with some bird enthusiasts who might know the natural history of these birds better than us,” Lentink says. Applications to use the camera can be found on the project’s website. For more, check out the videos above and below.
All images and final video courtesy of Rivers Ingersoll