Where E-gulls Dare

Biomimicry – nature’s influence on design – is nothing new, but it continues to deliver interesting innovations. Tom Batchelor looks at a top-secret drone inspired by Cornwall’s seagulls

A seagull flies away as the sun rises over St Ives, Cornwall, on June 12, 2021 during the G7 summit
Daniel Leal-Olivas / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

“Birds make use of the wind currents and updraughts to stay in the air, barely using any energy at all”

The skies above Cornwall will be that little bit busier soon, with the launch of a new drone. And while most of us consider seagulls to be pests, this drone simulates the birds’ flight by harnessing the wind – meaning that it can remain in flight up to ten times longer than conventional battery powered vehicles.

The Hover Bird project, established by Falmouth-based aerospace engineering graduate Patrick Maletz, seeks to learn from nature by mimicking how birds gain altitude and cover great distances simply by using energy from wind currents. Most conventional drones struggle in even moderately unstable conditions, but in designing an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that uses wind to its advantage, Maletz hopes his prototype could soon help serve some of the most remote and inhospitable parts of the world.

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