In a somewhat morbid turn of events, scientists are reportedly making dead bird drones. Researchers at the University of New Mexico are using taxidermy techniques to preserve dead birds in order to outfit them with drone components, such as motors, propellers, and sensors.
Why dead bird drones?
Drones have long been modeled on birds and their flight mechanics. In this sense, it’s no surprise that engineers would try to improve drone design using birds so their machines can navigate through difficult terrain and adapt to changing conditions with ease. But the zombie bird thing gives us pause.
However, the project is still in its early stages. the researchers are experimenting with different types of birds to see which ones make the best drones. So far, they have tested the concept using quails and doves.
They’ve found that bird drones can fly and maneuver in ways that traditional drones cannot. For example, bird drones are able to fly close to the ground and through narrow gaps. This could eventually be useful for tasks such as search and rescue or inspecting infrastructure.
Isn’t this morbid?
While the concept of turning dead birds into drones may seem macabre, the researchers behind the project believe that it could have important implications for the future of drone technology. For example, bird-like drones are more energy-efficient than traditional drones.
“If we learn how these birds manage … energy between themselves, we can apply (that) into the future aviation industry to save more energy and save more fuel,” said Dr. Mostafa Hassanalian, a mechanical engineering professor who is leading the project at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.
Bird drones can also be less obtrusive than traditional drones, which may be noisy and disruptive. Since they’re quieter, bird drones could even be used for wildlife monitoring or scientific research without disturbing the animals being studied.
Of course, there are still many challenges to overcome, including the ethical considerations of taking an animal (even a dead one) and turning it into a tool.
Right now, the taxidermied prototype the engineers have built can only fly for 20 minutes.
Source: “Scientists Turned Dead Birds Into Zombie Drones to Spy on Humans” — Popular Mechanics