Bird That Flies for 200 Days Straight, Drone That Flies for 5 Years Straight


Fri, Oct 11th, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to the Smithsonian, researchers "Felix Lietchi and his colleagues at the Swiss Ornithological Institute attached electronic tags that log movement to six alpine swifts." When the tags were collected a year later, they discovered that for more than 200 days, the small birds never set foot on the ground.

Rossmanith:“When we looked at the data, we were totally blown away,” Lietchi said. “During their non-breeding period in Africa, they were always in the air.”

For more than 200 straight days straight, as revealed by his team’s study published today in Nature Communications, the birds stayed aloft over West Africa. The tags only collect data every four minutes, so it’s impossible to rule out the chance that they touched down occasionally in between these intervals—but every single one of the data points collected for more than six months in a row indicated that, at the time, they were either actively flying or at least gliding in the air.

Meanwhile, Titan Aerospace now offers the Solara, drones that can fly continuously for nearly five years, "charging its own battery high above commercial aircraft through the use of solar power."

The Solara series are designed to be a fraction of the cost of a satellite, but operate many similar tasks, such as surveillance, crop-monitoring, weather and disaster oversight, or any other monitoring that low-altitude satellites track.

The Solara aircraft could cost less than $2 million, according to Forbes, which quotes Dustin Sanders, Titan’s chief electrical engineer, as saying, “We’re trying to do a single-million-dollar-per-aircraft platform. And the operation cost is almost nothing — you’re paying some dude to watch the payload and make sure the aircraft doesn’t do anything stupid.”



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