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Robotics Science

Winged Robots Hint At the Origins of Flight 59

sciencehabit writes "Here's what we know about the evolution of flight: By about 150 million years ago, the forests were filled with flying — or perhaps just gliding — dinosaurs like Archaeopteryx, possibly similar to the ancestor of modern birds. What we don't know is what primitive wings were used for before bird ancestors could fly. A new study (abstract) provides some fresh data for this debate, not from fossils but from a winged robot (video included)."
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Winged Robots Hint At the Origins of Flight

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  • by Stirling Newberry ( 848268 ) on Tuesday October 18, 2011 @08:13PM (#37756882) Homepage Journal
    Because it hints at being able to model biological systems with robots, and make comparative analysis of the different advantages that might be gained. Since many features evolve in parallel, it can also be used to judge the relative chance of rapid versus gradual evolution. Good catch sciencehabit.
  • by gnalle ( 125916 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @04:47AM (#37759514)

    The wings only help because the robot was designed poorly. When the robot moves without wings the body of the robot jumps up and down and it rotates along a vertical axis, and that makes it hard for the robot to move. The wings stabilize the motion of the body and presses it towards the ground, and that allows the robot to move faster.

    Real beetles don't have this problem because they move their legs in a more controlled fashion. I am sure that the sameis true for the dinasaurs that turned in to birds. Therefore this experiment does not prove a lot. The team is asking the right question, but they did not come up with a denifite answer. []

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