Improving Power Dynamics by Flipping the Bird to the Birds
Apologies. I know we’re discussing some serious stuff in the posts below. But I just can’t resist using Justin’s most recent title as a hook to introduce this Boston Globe item about research being conducted at Brown University to improve aircraft design through the study of pregnant female bats…
Since the Wright brothers took to the skies a century ago, aerospace engineers have studied bird flight as the baseline for designing aircraft.
But a special Pentagon research project underway in Providence could change that.
A team of engineers and biologists at Brown University has discovered that bats, the mysterious nocturnal mammals that are guided by sound and helped inspire Dracula and Batman, may hold the secret to more efficient flying machines.
The Air Force has taken notice of Brown’s work. It will invest $6 million in the project over the next 5 years, in the hope of using the research to design future military aircraft.
Research so far has found that bats can carry up to 50 percent of their weight and execute airborne maneuvers that would make a bird or plane fall out of the sky. Moreover, scientists believe the hundreds of tiny sensors covering bat wings could be the key to their most impressive airborne maneuvers, a discovery that engineers could replicate with networks of sensors and computers on military aircraft.
If researchers can unlock the secrets of bat flight, it could have wide-reaching implications, according to Air Force and Brown officials. They say the project has the potential to revolutionize aircraft design and could lead to the creation of smaller, more efficient military air vehicles that can maneuver in tight spaces as well as gather intelligence and airlift supplies through forbidding terrain.