Scientists, Inspired by Nature, Build Next Generation Flying Robots (Wikimedia Commons/Waugsberg)
Scientists, Inspired by Nature, Build Next Generation Flying Robots (Wikimedia Commons/Waugsberg)Wikimedia Commons/Waugsberg

Scientists from different universities across the world are in the process of creating flying robots inspired by nature, and are taking necessary steps to build them.

These small drones in the past have been utilized for search and rescue operations to examine hazardous and hard to reach areas, like in Fukushima, Japan, but this is the first time that researchers are creating the next generation robots with inspiration from nature.

Scientists created a robot with bird-like gripping appendages and studied mechanism used by birds, insects, bats and snakes to overcome some common hazards faced by drones while navigating in an urban area. The researchers have also built an algorithm that enables the micro-robots to employ "flock-like" behavior.

"There is no drone that can avoid a wind turbine. And it is very difficult for drones to fly in urban environments, where there are vast numbers of obstacles to navigate and turbulent airflow to cope with," BBC News quoted David Lentink Aerial robotics expert from Stanford University in California

A team of researchers from University of Maryland has developed sensors based on the insect's eyes for their experimental drone. They eyes are actually micro cameras that are connected to a computer that can guide the drone from nearby objects.

Another team of researchers from University of Pennsylvania has engineered bird-like appendages that can grasp objects at high speed.

Researchers from Brown University led by Prof Kenny Breuer built robotic bat wing, demonstrating the bird's amazing range of flexibility and movement.

"They deform instead of breaking. They are also adapting better to the airflow because they're so flexible," explained Prof Lentink.

The size of the tiny robots is that of a one cent coin and can take off from one point and land in another easily. It can hover in the air for a prolonged period of time. Scientists claim that the development of these tiny robots was actually not easy. They closely monitored the insects to find out how they conquered the elements, such as wind.

"Flying animals can be found everywhere in our cities. From scavenging pigeons to alcohol-sniffing fruit flies that make precision landings in our wine glasses, these animals have quickly learnt how to control their flight through urban environments to exploit our resources. To enable our drones to fly equally well in wind and clutter, we need to solve several flight control challenges during all flight phases: take-off, cruising, and landing," wrote David Lentink in a news release.

The latest findings about these flying robots have been published in the journal Bioinspiration & Biometics.