Researchers resurrect dead birds as drones, thanks to taxidermy
A team of researchers has successfully developed drones from the bodies of stuffed dead birds. While a little macabre, the team members believe such drones could one day be used to watch animals without being seen.
But, as revealed at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech 2023 Forum, the same taxidermy drones could also be used to spy on human subjects by governments or militaries.
Dubbed "ornithopters," the drones consist of a set of flapping wings, are powered by mechanical propellers, and are designed after the way that birds fly.
Instead of only using synthetic materials to construct drones, researchers think the new results can be used to re-engineer deceased birds. One such researcher is Mostafa Hassanalian at New Mexico Tech in the US.
In the study, researchers put together parts of taxidermy birds and artificial drones that flapped like wings to make something that looked and moved almost exactly like a bird. Researchers also used 3D flapping and aerodynamic simulators to test how the re-engineered models flapped in the wind.
“This allowed the implementation of flapping mechanisms and testing of the aerodynamics of the flapping wing drone,” the researchers wrote in the study.
Interestingly, however, they also discovered that these models weren't the most effective fliers. Even though making such a drone is hard, they said, "it is very useful for research and can keep nature from being disturbed."
The latest discoveries, according to scientists, can also help current flapping-wing drones "appear more natural."
Based on what they found, they also found that some gear parts in these drones could be changed to make them quieter and make them last longer. The study also showed that making the wrists of these drones bendable will help the wings be more flexible in flight.
By looking at both taxidermy and drone flight simulations simultaneously, they say that many different flight options can be added to drones to make them easier to use and give them a more natural flight.
“A final improvement would be to add legs so that the drone can perch and monitor without using much battery,” scientists added in the study.
You can view the study for yourself here.
"This paper looks into the use of taxidermy birds on flapping wing drones so that wildlife monitoring will be more seamless and natural. By using 3D flapping and aerodynamic simulators, limits of aerodynamic flapping characteristics could be set for the drone for a specific set of wings. This allowed the implementation of flapping mechanisms and testing of the aerodynamics of the flapping wing drone. It is discovered that although it is difficult to create such a drone, it is very practical for research purposes and can keep nature undisturbed. Improvements on the flapping wing drone would be to make the overall drone look more natural. Spur gears can be changed to helical gears so there is reduced noise and an increase in longevity. Bendable wrists would help in making the wings more flexible in flight. Adding different flight options to the drone could yield an easier user experience and aid in a more natural flight. A final improvement would be to add legs so that the drone can perch and monitor without using much battery."