Researchers have discovered the natural collision-avoidance systems that allow birds to avoid constantly crashing into people, other birds, and things they encounter in the sky. They simply move to the right.
Three scientists from the University of Queensland in Australia were studying how drones, as they become increasingly common in airspace, will steer clear of one another. While militaries around the world have struggled with the same question regarding planes, commercial drones are small enough that the scientists felt they might find the answer by studying the birds. They were surprised to find that there were "no studies" that "looked specifically at what happens when two birds fly towards each other."
While studying budgerigars, the scientists noticed that there was a species-wide trend to turn right when facing an object. This consistent bias, the scientists say, "is obviously of paramount importance—random biases across individuals would not be favorable, as they would lead to collisions in half of the encounters, on average." Another remarkable fact was the birds' reaction times: They can both detect a potential collision and make the necessary course corrections within 0.42 seconds.
Flying is, of course, a three-dimensional activity. The team found less consistency on whether birds flew up or down to avoid impacts. They suspect this might have to do with some social standing, or any particular bird's size. However, the birds try to avoid this situation as often as possible by "rarely" flying at the same altitudes to begin with.
Birds have been flying for around 150 million years, so it's no surprise they're better at flying than drones. With any luck, more research studying their natural reactions will provide a guidebook on how to get the robots up to speed.
Date Posted: Tuesday, October 4th, 2016 , Total Page Views: 1836
Like what you're reading? Please help us continue providing you with informative and thought provoking stories by becoming a supporter of Moorenews.net