Seagulls inspire spy planes, according to an article in BBC News, 27 August 2005.
Aerospace engineer Rick Lind and a team of researchers at the University of Florida are developing small unmanned aircraft that can manoeuvre through urban environments where they must avoid numerous obstacles, such as poles and trees, and fly through confined spaces such as alleyways and between buildings.
Lind explained: “We realised we needed better agility and manoeuvrability to move in the city so we asked, ‘well, how do birds to do it?’ “
Lind’s team studied seagulls in flight, noting how they changed their wing shapes and used morphing techniques to design tiny vehicles that change direction quickly and fit through confined spaces. However, the greatest challenge is not the wing shape, it is design a vehicle that can quickly identify unexpected obstacles and rapidly change its flight path, but continue with its mission without human intervention.
The research is funded by NASA and the US Air force who are hoping to develop small drones that could be sent into urban environments to search out biological and chemical agents and send information back to base. Eventually the scientists hope to develop tiny inconspicuous, machines that can change shape and colour and communicate with each other.
Lind commented: “They will be like biological systems so that they mimic birds much more than they do now.”
Editorial Comment: When scientists and engineers have finally designed and built a spy plane that can fly by itself through confined spaces and communicate with other devices they will have made a copy of a real bird. Before they get to that achievement much intelligent creativity will be needed. Leaving it to naturalistic random processes will not achieve anything. Therefore, the research described above is irrefutable evidence that birds are the product of creative design, not naturalistic or chance random processes.
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