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Flying animals can teach drones a thing or two

Small drones will soon be zipping between trees and dodging buildings, just like swallows, bees and moths

10:30am, January 24, 2015
Robot bird illustration

BIOMIMICRY  Scientists are turning to the animal kingdom to inspire the next wave of small drones.

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Ty Hedrick stands on a riverbank watching an aerial clash between two foes.

An intruder has ventured into restricted airspace and must flee as quickly as it came. The wind shifts as the pursuer dips when the invader dips, curls when it curls. They match each other step for step, or more accurately, wingbeat for wingbeat.

The battle pits two cliff swallows (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) against each other, midnight blue on their backs and pumpkin orange on their throats.

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