(Physorg; 23 ;March 2017)
Scientists at BAE Systems and City, University of London have revealed how research work on how falcons fly is inspiring new technologies for aircraft that could contribute to their safety in the air, aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. The technologies could be applied within the next 20 years.
The scientists have developed several concepts following research into how the peregrine falcon – the world’s fastest bird – is able to stay in control and airborne at speeds of up to 200mph, even in high winds. The technologies being developed include ‘sensory feathers’ – 3-D-printed polymer ‘hair’ filaments which would act like sensors on the body of an aircraft, providing an early warning system if it began to stall. Similarly, more densely packed passive polymer filaments may also be capable of changing the airflow very close to the surface of the aircraft which could reduce ‘drag’ on the aircraft wing-skin. Aerodynamic drag ultimately slows aircraft in flight.
A further technology has been inspired by the falcon’s ability to stabilise itself after swooping or landing by ruffling its feathers. Small flexible or hinged flaps on an aircraft could allow the wing to manoeuvre quickly and land more safely at lower speeds. The added safety margin gained using this approach could allow future aircraft of a more compact design or to carry more fuel. In addition, the research so far has shown that the flaps could potentially lower aircraft noise pollution.
Professor Christoph Bruecker from City’s Aeronautical Engineering department, said: “The peregrine falcon is the world’s fastest bird, able to dive for prey at incredibly steep angles and high velocities. The research work has been truly fascinating and I am sure it will deliver some real innovation and benefits for the aerospace sector.”
Professor Clyde Warsop, a specialist in Aerodynamic Flow Control from our military aircraft business based at Filton in Bristol and Warton in Lancashire added: “Working with Professor Christoph Bruecker and his team at City, we’ve investigated how we could apply the unique abilities of the peregrine falcon to aircraft. Bio-inspiration is not a new concept; many technologies that we use every day are increasingly inspired by animals and nature.”
(Author: Physorg; Photo: Wikipedia; 20 March 2017)
Innovative research looking at the timing and sequence of bird calls could provide new insight into the social interaction that goes on between birds. It will also help teach machines to differentiate between man-made and natural sounds and to understand the world around them.
The work is being led by Dr Dan Stowell, a research fellow in machine listening at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). It is supported through an Early Career Fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). An audio slide-show Deciphering the dawn chorus on this research is available on YouTube with examples of the bird recordings.
In August 2015, Dr Stowell’s technology was released to the public in a smartphone app called Warblr. Users record the sound of a bird on their mobile device and the app analyses the sound, matches it with patterns of bird calls in its dataset and provides a list of possible species that the recording matches.
Dr Stowell is now building on this work to take the computer analysis of the sounds that birds make to a new level, to discover more about what messages are being communicated and who is dominating the conversations that are going on.
“Traditionally you would take explicit measures of things like how long is this sound, what frequency is that sound?” says Dr Stowell. “To go beyond this we use modern machine-learning methods where you don’t necessarily know how a computer has made a decision about a particular sound, but by training it, which means showing it lots of previous examples, we can encourage a computer algorithm to generalise from those.”
At the University’s laboratory aviary, female zebra finches provide Dr Stowell with plenty of audio examples for his work.
“We have put the timing of the calls together with acoustic analysis of the content of the call, for instance whether it is a short or long call. We examine factors such as does the probability of one bird calling increase or decrease after another bird calls or is there a more subtle interaction going on? Working out how strongly each bird influences another helps us to build a picture of the communication network that is going on in that group of birds.”
(Birdlife Cyprus, 16 March 2017)
With 2.3 million birds estimated to have been killed in Cyprus in autumn 2016, BirdLife Cyprus highlights the urgent need for action by both the Cyprus Government and the SBA Administration.
The latest findings of the BirdLife Cyprus surveillance programme show that 21km of mist net rides were active during autumn 2016 within the survey area, which covers the Larnaka-Famagusta and the Ayios Theodoros-Maroni areas. Based on the data gathered systematically in the field, BirdLife Cyprus estimates that nearly 2.3 million birds could have been killed across the whole of Cyprus in autumn 2016. Illegal bird trapping is a serious and persistent problem both in the Republic of Cyprus and the SBAs. In the Republic, the use of limesticks is widespread and there are restaurants illegally offering ambelopoulia, while in the SBAs there is extensive mist netting activity and widespread use of calling devices to draw in birds to their death.
The extensive and widespread use of mist nets is further verified by enforcement statistics, where for the months August to October 2016 more than 850 mist nets were confiscated by the competent authorities, the highest number confiscated in the last 6 years. With regards to limesticks, more than 3,500 were confiscated by enforcement agencies.
This wildlife crime is taking place both in the Republic of Cyprus and the SBAs, making it very clear that a joint effort is necessary to address this persistent issue. In particular, within the Dhekelia SBA area, mist netting activity remained around record levels last autumn, with Cape Pyla recorded as the worst trapping location for mist nets in Cyprus. Furthermore, other developments highlight the lack of political will on the part of the Republic of Cyprus to take serious action to tackle this persistent problem. In addition to the inclusion of the ‘alternative plan’ to the Strategic Plan for the ‘selective hunting of blackcaps by derogation’ in 2015, the Game and Fauna Service has proposed a catastrophic law amendment, introducing a series of relaxations and loopholes in the existing legislative framework.
Martin Hellicar, Director of BirdLife Cyprus, stated: “The proposals included in the amendment would be completely counterproductive to anti poaching and illegal bird trapping efforts and we call the plenary of the Cyprus Parliament to vote against this bill.