We've posted these bird stabilization videos before (chickens are amazing!) but they never cease to impress. As good as we are with digital electronics, nature always does better with analog circuits.

(via Kottke)

Views: 1396

Comment by Garry Qualls on August 8, 2012 at 10:34pm

Hummingbirds are always my favorites at this.  They pull up near a flower or a feeder and their head stops completely while their center of gravity keeps swinging around all over the place:



It would be nice to close the loop this well in such a small package...

Comment by Martin Szymanski on August 8, 2012 at 10:41pm

Kind of funny regarding the central ear IMU. The knowing that there is a gravity pull down made the bird react accordingly.


Comment by Adrian Thomas on August 9, 2012 at 1:28am

Most of that head stabilisation is driven visually rather than through inertial sensors. That isn't to say inertial stuff isn't important - I know of at least one peregrine that has some sort of offset in the system so that when she is hooded and sitting still (no visual inputs, steady inertial inputs) her head constantly slowly (steadily) rotates to the left then flicks back to the right.

The odd thing is that they stabilise the head independently of the body, wings and tail.

They also have force-sensors and airflow sensors distributed all over the wings. Some recent UAV research suggests force-sensing has advantages over inertial sensing for dealing with turbulence.

Comment by Rui Manuel Cravo Marques on August 9, 2012 at 3:46am

Whatever we do, nature will always do it better :)

Comment by Scott James on August 9, 2012 at 5:56am
Comment by Mathew krawczun on August 9, 2012 at 9:12am

I always wonder how much this has to do with the birds inner ear or if it’s more like a steadicam? Using tendons and muscles responses instead of complex though would be far more efficient in my view.  

Comment by sergei lupashin on August 9, 2012 at 10:06am

@Scott: i like that version better as well.

This is sure to start some sort of IMU-owl-crossover-fetish stream of viral videos..

@Adrian: I totally believe that vision is key here. There's a whole thing on pilots learning not to trust their "inner" inertial sensors in dense fog/night flight, isn't there? Because IMU's on things not attached to the ground just don't give any absolute attitude info* .. (* .. yes, indirectly, drag, etc etc)

Comment by Jake Stew on August 9, 2012 at 1:29pm

nature always does better with analog circuits.

What's your basis for calling wetware analog?  The nervous system is a digital network, everything breaks down to discrete digital firings of nerve cells.

Comment by Stephan Hiltenkamp on August 9, 2012 at 1:41pm
Which fire based on spacial and temporal arrangement of incoming impulses on a cell membrane... Not exactly digital, is it? The membrane chemistry also has fading or exhaustion effects which could be interpreted as integral attenuation and the propagation speed of firing is slow enough to make the spatial layout of a circuit interesting even at low fequencies.
Comment by Stephan Hiltenkamp on August 9, 2012 at 1:44pm
@sergei you did notice that the owl also kept her head steady while blindfolded? Although i would agree that there is more variation and random position changes in that case.


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