A different type of birdwatching

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: A different type of birdwatching
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2006 20:40:21 +1000

Public release date: 3-Apr-2006
Winging it – bird watching with a difference

If you enjoy wildlife programmes then you'll probably have seen
bird's-eye view footage of flying, taken from cameras attached to
birds. A research group from the University of Oxford has gone one step further: by attaching a compact motion measurement unit in addition to cameras they hope to glean novel information on what it is that makes
birds aeronautical experts.  Their results could help in designing
wing-morphing aircraft that would have deformable wing and tail parts, in place of conventional trailing-edge flaps. Dr Graham Taylor has
been testing the system in Denmark on a trained Steppe Eagle and will
introduce the technique on Monday 3rd April at the Society for
Experimental Biology's Annual Main Meeting in Canterbury [session A5].

Using this technique allows the researchers to study the flight
mechanisms of free-flying birds, which apart from being more
informative offers an ethical means of bird flight analysis.  Several
cameras are mounted on the bird's back or belly and point at the wings, head and tail. The motion measurement unit weighs less than 50g and
provides complete 3-dimensional information on the orientation,
rotation and acceleration of the Eagle. The research group want to fit their motion measurements to dynamical models of bird flight to allow
them to work out how the Eagle's control system functions.

Recent trials in Denmark have proved successful. "We can measure tail spread, pitch angle and bank angle from the onboard video directly", says Taylor. "The plan is to relate these measurable control inputs to the body motion of the bird, which we can quantify using the motion
measurement unit."

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