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article imageHummingbirds out-perform helicopters

By Tim Sandle     Aug 2, 2014 in Environment
Stamford - New research indicates that hummingbirds can accomplish sustained flight that is at least as efficient as that of the most high-tech micro-drone helicopter.
The study indicates that hummingbirds are better hoverers than even the most advanced micro-helicopters, and this has given engineers pause for thought: how can human made machines be improved to reach the same levels of efficiency as the diminutive birds?
The study was been published in The Royal Society’s Interface journal, in a paper titled "Hummingbird wing efficacy depends on aspect ratio and compares with helicopter rotors." For the research, scientists tested hummingbird wings from museum specimens in a special apparatus called a wing spinner that helped them measure exactly how much force the birds needed to generate to lift their body weight into the air.
The report concludes that Anna’s hummingbird, the species that achieves the most efficient hovering, is more than 20 percent more efficient than the Black Hornet, a 16 gram micro-drone helicopter used by the British Army for surveillance in Afghanistan.
While the one hummingbird was way ahead of the helicopters, a further 12 hummingbird species tested by Stanford University’s David Lentink and colleagues was on par with the helicopter. Commenting on this, Lentink told BBC News: "This shows that if we design the wings well, we can build drones that hover as efficiently, if not more efficiently, as hummingbirds."
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