Parrotlet flight reveals faults in flight research, Stanford study shows

Parrotlet flight reveals faults in flight research. Today we get a bird’s eye view of the intrepid explorer Obi. This parrotlet helps scientists understand more about how birds fly and what we can learn from our feathered friends to further develop flying robots and drones.

Stanford mechanical engineer David Lentink and aerospace engineer Eric Gutierrez published their findings in the Bioinformatics and Biomimetics journal today. They made parrotlet-sized goggles using lenses from human laser safety goggles, 3D-printed sockets and veterinary tape. The goggles also had reflective markers so the researchers could track the bird’s velocity. Then Obi was trained to wear the goggles and fly from perch to perch.

Once Obi had been trained, he flew through a laser sheet that illuminated nontoxic, micron-sized aerosol particles. As he flew through the seeded laser sheet, his wing motion disturbed the particles, generating a detailed record of the vortices created by the flight.

Those particles created the clearest picture to date of the wake left by a flying animal.

Source: Stanford University

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