An Oxford University study to quantify flight performance of large birds has captured the measurement of the first airfoil profile of an in-flight bird, which will aid in developing future micro aerial vehicle (MAV) concepts.

The study, funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) looks at natural flyers in agile flight to derive inspiration and insight towards increased flight agility for future micro air vehicle concepts, according to Spacewar.

Wireless micro camera packs are placed to observe various in-flight features including deployment of birds’ covert feathers during certain manoeuvres, wing morphing (or bending) for flight control, head movement in coordination with turns and other occurrences.

Oxford’s animal behaviour research group used high-speed cameras in concert with stereo-vision cameras to capture the airfoil shape of a bird in free flight.

Flight agility is a key enabler for any future MAV system and AFRL needs to adequately characterise aerodynamics and flight mechanics for ubiquitous swarming sensors and shooters.