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Flying Like the Birds
How does a bird handle the wind, hanging effortlessly while battered by gusts and darting through clusters of trees with seamless precision? Associate Professor Russ Tedrake wants to understand how birds can operate under such conditions and create machines that can do the same. His current goal is to develop an aircraft that can fly like a bird, darting through trees and narrowly avoiding obstacles during fast-paced flight. Tedrake and his research group at CSAIL, the Robot Locomotion Group, recently unveiled a video of a new computer-controlled aircraft that is able to accurately perform knife-edge turns, rolling 90 degrees to dart through an opening narrower than the aircraft’s wingspan.