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Birds

The UK's Crossrail project is said to be Europe's largest construction project. What's more, the earth excavated to construct its tunnels is being used to develop one of Europe's largest nature reserves. Wallasea Island in Essex has recently received its final shipment of Crossrail earth. Read More
If you've ever watched a flying bird weaving its way through a forest, you may have wondered how it could do so without hitting its wings on the trees. Well, birds actually do hit trees with their wings. Unlike the rigid wings of an aircraft, however, birds' wings simply fold back under impact, then immediately fold open again to maintain flight. Now, scientists from Stanford University have developed wings for flapping-wing drones that do the same thing. Read More
Turbulence can be unpleasant enough for passengers in full-sized aircraft, but it's even more of a challenge for unmanned micro air vehicles (MAVs) – a good gust can blow one of the little drones completely off course, or even cause it to crash. That's why a team from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, has looked to birds for a solution. The result is a system that detects turbulence before it buffets the MAV, allowing the aircraft to anticipate it and thus maintain a smoother flight. The technology could also be applicable to regular airplanes. Read More
Birds that stray into the paths of aircraft, eat crops, or spread disease from foraging in large numbers at landfills are, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, downright dangerous. Over the years people have tried everything from scaring them away with loud noises to trapping them – all with varying results. Now a designer from the Netherlands has come up with robotic birds of prey that look and fly exactly like the real thing. Read More
We tend to think of aeronautical engineering as having left the birds standing still sometime around the First World War, but since jet fighters can’t perch and quadcopters can’t snag salmon out of a stream, we still have a few things to learn. Taking a couple of pages from the avian playbook, Fraunhofer Institute for Electronic Nano Systems (ENAS) and its partners are developing wing flaps for airplanes that change shape like a bird’s wing for greater efficiency. Read More
Chances are that you already carry a smartphone with you wherever you go, and if you're a wildlife-watcher, hiker, or sporting-event spectator, then you likely also have a pair of binoculars. Well, the Snapzoom is a new product that brings those two devices together – it lets you get telephoto snapshots of distant subjects, by holding your phone's camera lens in alignment with one lens of your binoculars. I recently got a chance to try the thing out for myself, and liked what it had to offer. Read More
Turkeys may not be everyone's idea of beautiful birds, but they certainly have colorful skin on their heads. What's more, that skin changes color with the animal's mood. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have now copied the process by which those color changes occur, and used it to create a biosensor that could be used to detect airborne toxins. Read More
Four turbines at the Smøla wind farm in Norway are to have one rotor blade painted black to see whether increasing the visual contrast of the turbine against its background might help to reduce bird strikes. Read More
A student from Northumbria University has envisioned a sustainable hostel to house both birds and water sports enthusiasts in Blyth on the northeast coast of England. Positioned on dramatic sweeping beaches, a series of 9-story towers will provide protected nesting and bird watching areas in the winter, and transform into a communal campsite for water sports enthusiasts in the summer. Read More
Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo Raven that's such a convincing flyer, it's been attacked by a local hawk during testing. Though numerous other robotic birds have successfully taken to the skies in recent years, including Festo's visually stunning SmartBird, this featherless mechanical marvel is capable of impressive complex aerobatic maneuvers thanks to completely programmable wings that can flap independently of each other. Read More
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