|Photo by: Eric Gropp via Wikimedia Commons|
Do not let the chubbiness of oilbirds fool you. Despite its apparent size, its senses are very much complex that scientists have taken an interest in this particular bird.
According to a study by Signe Brinkløv, a postdoc in the Sound, Communication and Behaviour Group at the Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, published in Royal Society Open Science, oilbirds possess an extremely sensitive vision and a heightened sense of smell. Along with these traits, oilbirds also use their hearing for echolocation and the bristles on their noses provide a sensitive tactile sensation.
What interests Brinkløv is the incorporation of sight and echolocation by the oilbirds. Most nocturnal animals rely on sound in while hunting in the night when natural light sources are very scarce. Not only that but Brinkløv also wanted how to incorporate the oilbirds’ method of echolocation to practical use.
Facing the similar problem of drones, there is a difficulty navigating it at night as the one who controls it heavily relies on the video feed from the drone.
“If you could combine the sense of sight and echolocation on a drone so it navigates based on input from both systems, then more opportunities open up. For instance, it could fly safely and perhaps autonomously in the dark or in between trees in a forest," says Brinkløv.
Animal studies such as this provide an optimistic perspective for future possibilities of technological innovation. Brinkløv and her colleagues believe that this research can be relayed to sensory researchers and robotic engineers, promoting interdisciplinary studies.