The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is using preserved birds through taxidermy to develop drones to study flight. The project is being led by mechanical engineering professor Dr. Mostafa Hassanalian, who found that artificial, mechanical birds had not produced the results he was looking for. By studying the formation and flight patterns of flocks using the taxidermy bird drones, the team hopes to apply their findings to the aviation industry. Brenden Herkenhoff, a Ph.D. student at the university, is studying how coloration affects flight efficiency. The current taxidermy bird prototype flies for a maximum of 20 minutes, and the team is working on making it fly longer and conducting tests in the wild among living birds.
Photo Credit: Bryan Hanson