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Albatross 'dynamic soaring' achieved by repeated curve-altitude oscillation

Date:
September 5, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Albatrosses leverage the energy of the wind to fly with essentially no mechanical cost to themselves, very rarely flapping their wings, and new work offers insight into how exactly they accomplish this feat.

Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) in flight, East of the Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania, Australia.
Credit: JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Albatrosses leverage the energy of the wind to fly with essentially no mechanical cost to themselves, very rarely flapping their wings. New work offers insight into how exactly they accomplish this feat.

The researchers, led by Gottfried Sachs of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Francesco Bonadonna of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), used advanced GPS tracking.

They determined that the energy gain during the albatross's "dynamic soaring" comes from a repeated oscillation consisting of a combined curve-altitude flight maneuver, with optimal adjustment for the wind.

The results may provide inspiration for robotic aircraft that utilize the flight technique of albatrosses for engineless propulsion, the authors write.

The research was published Sept. 5 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Sachs G, Traugott J, Nesterova AP, Dell’Omo G, Kόmmeth F, et al. Flying at No Mechanical Energy Cost: Disclosing the Secret of Wandering Albatrosses. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (9): e41449 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041449

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Albatross 'dynamic soaring' achieved by repeated curve-altitude oscillation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905171628.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, September 5). Albatross 'dynamic soaring' achieved by repeated curve-altitude oscillation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905171628.htm
Public Library of Science. "Albatross 'dynamic soaring' achieved by repeated curve-altitude oscillation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905171628.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

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