UAVs Schooled In Thermals By Peregrine Falcons

UAVs seeking to ride thermal air currents to increase their air time while using less fuel would do well to listen to the lessons taught by peregrine falcons.


(Peregrine falcons show UAVs how to use thermal air currents)

Today, Zsuzsa Ákos at Eötvös University in Hungary and a few pals suggest another approach inspired by videos and GPS tracking of peregrine falcons in flight. It turns out that these masters of thermal soaring employ a counter-intuitive strategy: instead of spiralling in one direction to stay with a single thermal, they constantly change the direction of their spirals.

At first glance, that seems odd. Change the direction of your spiral and you immediately fly out of a thermal. But Ákos and co have simulated this strategy and say there is a method in this madness.

The key is to recognise that the atmosphere is filled with thermals that are distributed in 3D space in complex ways. According to their simulation, the reason why the direction change works so well is that it allows the flier to sample the volume of the atmosphere more effectively, making it more likely that it will find a better thermal. Crucially, this works particularly well when turbulence is present.

The new strategy is computationally simple and so requires little power to implement. So the thinking is that UAVs could fly for longer, using less power, if they copied the falcon's flying behaviour.

I don't know how long UAV designers have thought about this idea, but the first place I read about it was in Roger Zelazny's excellent 1980 science/fantasy novel Changeling. In the story, small, robot planes called 'tracer-birds' detect and ride air currents:

The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...

...they stirred, almost simultaneously, as if shaken by a sudden breeze. They began to flex their wings.

Soon, one by one, they dropped from the heights, caught the air, rose, found their way, found their patterns, resumed their journey...
(Read more about Roger Zelazny's tracer-birds)

Be sure to read about another approach to using thermals in Autonomous Soaring Project UAV Cloud Swift.

Via Peregrine Falcons Inspire New Thermal Soaring Strategy for UAVs at MIT's Technology Review.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/7/2010)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Surveillance ")

UK Police AI To Stop Criminals Before They Strike
'... the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.' - Philip K. Dick, 1956.

Chinese Face Recognition Mistakes Bus Ad For Jaywalker
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.' - Schachner and Zagat, 1931.

China's Social Credit System - A Facebook-1984 Mashup
'Prestige, face, mana, repute, glory: the Sirenese word is strakh.' - Jack Vance, 1976.

Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.' - Cory Doctorow, 2008.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Purdue Pharma Ready To Profit From OxyContin Use Or Addiction Recovery
'It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.'

BloxVox Mutes Cellphone Convos
It's the polite thing to do, and has been the polite thing to do for about four generations.

Superfast Replicator: Volumetric Additive Manufacturing
I can't wait. Bring it on.

DNA May Contain Malware
'You were told to embed the logical pathogen.'

I Can't Resist Worm Robots
'Seen close it was not completely flexible...'

Rplate Digital License Plates Now Legal In Michigan
'Gragg's digital ink license plates ...'

Can Musk Starship Astronauts Use Magnetic Boots?
'Walking awkwardly in the magnetic boots that held him to the black mass of meteoric iron...'

Giant Dolphin Spotted On Jupiter!
'Now at last he could appreciate its real size and complexity...'

Musk's Starship An SF Fan's Dream Come True
Perfect for testing, perfect for fans!

TinyMobileRobots Are Sewer Sentinels
Every movie monster gets its start someplace.

Fishy Facial Recognition Now Possible
'Palenkis can identify random line patterns better than any other species in the universe.'

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?'

Yandex Self-Driving Taxi Is Very Smooth
'The big car was slowing down, its computer brain sensing an exit ahead.'

Shrimp Actually Made Of Algae Is A New Wave Food
Bring in that crop algae.

Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.