To design the winged robot, the researchers first used motion-capture video to examine how pigeons fold and flex their wings while flying. Based on the results, they determined it was possible to control 20 feathers on each wing of a robot—which they dubbed “PigeonBot”—via elastic bands connected to just two joints. They also used modern imaging technology to gain new insight into how microscopic structures temporarily hook many bird species’ feathers to one another during flight. PigeonBot needs real feathers to work, so researchers must still find ways to artificially reproduce feathers’ qualities to take the technology to the next level.
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