Swan Necks Inspire Better Drone Cameras

Posted: Sep 1 2015, 7:45am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Swan Necks Inspire Better Drone Cameras
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  • Swan Neck Suspension Systems lend Clues to Engineers regarding Balanced Drone Cameras

The suspension systems found in the neck of a swan have lent valuable clues to engineers. That is regarding the building of balanced drone cameras.

Engineers at Stanford University have been studying the neck suspension systems of Whooper Swans. The goal is to produce drone cameras with better stability and perfect poise. The visual acuity of these new-fangled cameras would be ten times more accurate. That is as compared to the current models.

Swans and geese have such fancy and complex necks. They have fascinated aeronautical engineers since eons. While their whole bodies are undergoing gyrations, their necks are perfectly still. This is a feat of such marvelous accuracy that it defies the human imagination.

Using time-lapse photography and computer simulation, scientists have found that Whooper Swans employs a neck suspension system that is much like that of a racing car. The problem with drones is that the images they capture are subject to jerks. That is due to their inherent instability.

But following the Whooper Swan’s example steadier drones could be a possible invention. That is on the event horizon. It is a fact that all avian species have built-in stabilization systems. These allow them to counter the bobbing motion they are so famous for.

The neck structures and head mechanics have been studied in detail by the experts. But how exactly these systems work when the bird is in flight remains a mystery. However, now engineers at Stanford University have gauged the flight of Whooper Swans over a lake.

The results might surprise you. The neck provides stability much like a highly comfortable vehice over a rocky road. The right amount of rigidity and agility are vital. They allow the neck muscles to respond to the movements and keep the vision steady.

Avian species have about 20 vertebrae and over 200 muscles to stabilize their necks. That is a lot of mechanical support meant to buffer the motion of the bird amidst its flight in the air.

The biology and mechanisms of flight are quite complex and will take years to mimic on a human level. The swans are prototypical birds. The beauty and delicacy of their neck suspension systems are too good to be true.

Drones meanwhile will be increasingly employed in many fields in the future. They are not just meant to be wartime tools of the trade. Rather, they can be used for peaceful purposes as well.

The study published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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