By Hamish Johnston
For millennia humans have dreamt of flight – inspired no doubt by nature’s denizens of the sky. Although people now fly routinely, even the most advanced flying machine seems clunky and amateurish compared to the elegance of a dragonfly or swallow.
Indeed, scientists and engineers are desperate to learn from nature and you can read about some of the results in a special issue of the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics that is devoted to flight.
The issue includes nine papers that investigate how flying snakes glide through the air, how hummingbirds hover and even how a gecko uses its tail to right itself while falling.
You can see the robotic gecko above.
The issue’s guest editors, David Lentink and Andrew Biewener, have written a nice overview entitled “Nature-inspired flight: beyond the leap”.