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Video: What We Can Learn From Budgies About Flight Safety
In a series of experiments, a team of researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute, led by Prof. Mandayam Srinivasan, launched various budgerigar pairs from opposite ends of a tunnel and filmed the birds' flight strategies with high-speed video cameras. There was no collision in the air because the budgerigars always dodged to the right and in some cases even flew at different heights, probably according to predefined preferences.
Growing need for automatic control systems
For 150 million years, birds have been under a strong evolutionary constraint to develop basic rules and strategies to minimize the risk of collisions so people can learn a lot from them, explains Prof. Srinivasan. These findings are not only astonishing, but can also be helpful for people and for working on automatic anti-crash systems for aircraft. Because as air traffic continues to grow, there is a growing need for solid automatic control systems for manned and unmanned aircraft.
Another observation by the researchers was that the birds rarely flew at the same altitude - which raises the question of whether certain birds have specific preferences for their altitude, says Prof. Srinivasan. One possible explanation is that the altitude is affected by the position in the group hierarchy. However, this question needs further research.
But the new research results can already help to develop simple strategies for autopilot systems and unmanned aerial vehicles to prevent head-on collisions. The research was conducted in collaboration with Boeing Defense Australia and the Queensland University of Technology. The study was published in PLOS One and funded by ARC and Boeing Defense Australia. (kj)
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