Drone developers from around the globe are taking inspiration from nature for the latest generations of automated aerial vehicles. Researchers are faced with challenging problems of navigating tight environments, whether in urban environments, or underground. A total of 14 research teams have turned to nature for inspiration to develop superior capabilities in drones. Drones are now capable of picking up and delivering packages, which requires precise flight control and navigation. Bats are well-equipped for flying in and out of tight spaces. Vehicles with similar capabilities could be used in small areas that are unsafe for human occupation.
The next generation of flying robotic drones may resemble some of nature’s most familiar airborne creatures. In a special issue of the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, 14 research teams released a number of new experimental drone designs, which reportedly possess exquisite flight control and can overcome many of the problems drones may face when navigating urban terrain. The researchers said they took their design cues from nature, by closely examining animals such as birds, bats, insects — and even land dwelling snakes. “Flying animals can be found everywhere in our cities,” guest editor Dr. David Lentink, from Stanford University, wrote in an opening editorial. “From scavenging pigeons to alcohol-sniffing fruit flies that make precision landings on our wine glasses, these animals have quickly learnt how to control their flight through urban environments to exploit our resources.”