Bumblebees flight helps aircraft designers
- 19 September 2013
Bumblebees are helping scientists to design better aeroplanes.
Researchers at Harvard University filmed the buzzy insects in a wind tunnel to figure out how to make planes cope better in stormy weather.
They replayed the pictures in slow motion to study the techniques bees use to keep flying when it's really windy.
The findings could now be used in the design of smaller aircraft like drones, which can struggle to stay steady in even light winds.
Insects can cope with extreme winds
Dr Sridhar Ravi who worked on the project, says that the best small aircraft - with a wingspan of less than 25cm - "struggle to fly stably when there is even in a light breeze."
But even though they're smaller than that, he says, "insects seem to be capable of flying even in extreme wind conditions."
The wind tunnel allowed the scientists to recreate the really windy conditions.
They filmed the bees using high-speed cameras in order to replay their flight in very slow motion and discover how the insects adjusted their flight according to the wind they were experiencing.
This footage revealed that the bees slowed down their flight in unsteady winds, which seemed to allow them to use more energy keeping themselves steady.