As part of a broad investigation of bioinspired flight control, 14 different research teams are stealing ideas from nature to make novel improvements to the capabilities of drones.
"Whether this is avoiding obstacles, picking up and delivering items, or improving the takeoff and landing on tricky surfaces, it is hoped the solutions can lead to the deployment of drones in complex urban environments in a number of different ways," officials from the Institute of Physics (IOP) in the United Kingdom said in a statement. [5 Surprising Ways Drones Could Be Used in the Future]
These technologies, IOP added, could be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from "military surveillance and search-and-rescue efforts to flying camera phones and reliable courier services. For this, drones need exquisite flight control."
As part of this initiative, a group of researchers from Hungary used an algorithm to fly nine quadcopter drones as the machines followed a moving car. Anther group at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, built a tiny drone -- roughly the size of a 1-cent coin -- that was capable of flying and hovering in midair.