Observing nature for developing better robot design is of course not new, but better technology means enhanced observations. Professor David Lentink at Stanford University and his students are capturing images of birds in mid-flight with an ultra-high-speed Phantom camera that can shoot around 3,300 fps at full resolution.
This capability allows the students to capture incredible images of a bird’s flight which will help in understanding very intricate details about their movements and behavior. The data collected will help the team to develop an ideal drone design.
According to Professor Lentink, “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“.
Unlike birds, which utilize wings to stay airborne in various windy conditions, many drones will be knocked down with just a small blast of wind. The team aims to study in detail why robots can’t fly like birds. They will be studying the biomechanical behavior of different birds to develop an ideal search-and-rescue robot which will have the best characteristics seen in each of the birds.
To get a little help with the project the researchers are going to give Bay Area bird watchers access to the camera via their project “Flight Artists”. Lentink says, “We’d like to pair the camera with some bird enthusiasts who might know the natural history of these birds better than us“.