A group of engineers at the University of California have created small winged robot which weighs around 25 grams, with scientists now believing that flight evolved from animals which lived in trees with them flying downwards instead of flying upwards.
The robot called ‘Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod’ or DASH for short is a six legged robot and it is making major steps forward in helping the science community understand the origins of flight.
Evolution of flight
Nobody really understands with certainty where flight started and how it evolved with some knowledge of dinosaurs such as the Archaeopteryx known to fly around forests 150 million years ago.
Scientists are at a junction of two possible paths, one which is the ‘trees-down’ theory and the other is ‘ground-up’ theory.
Either they believe that wings helped these primitive creatures glide down from trees or it is believed that these creatures used their wings to run and flap along the floor helping them get up inclines and even run quicker.
Although the DASH is not able to fly scientists and engineers did find that adding wings to the machine doubled its ground speed and increased its stability which backs up the ‘ground-up’ theory. However, this does not rule out the ‘trees-down’ theory.
Glide down from a height
The 10cm robot caught the attention of a colleague at Berkley who is also an animal flight expert. He who was interested and excited about having a robot in his field and this prompted him to come to the conclusion that since the robot displayed the lack of ability to fly up from the ground it backed the theory that animals used their wings to glide down from a height.
Scientists are excited that using DASH and another robot the creators of this robot have built which is a robot able to fly off from the ground they will be able to understand flight and its evolution.