Nature serves as an inspiration for many technologies, and researchers in the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University are taking their inspiration for a micro air vehicle (MAV) design from the hummingbird.

The researchers are using a scale model that can mimic the wing motion of an actual hummingbird, allowing accurate measurements and observations of how air flows around the wings as they flap.

MAVs can be used in a wide range of important surveillance and tactical reconnaissance functions. However, vehicles measuring 10 centimeters or less might have a problem with hovering and vertical flight in windy conditions. This has led to research on how animals like hummingbirds fly and hover.

The principal investigator for the project is James Allen, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. The co-investigators are Banavara Shashikanth, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Paulo Ferreira de Sousa, a postdoctoral fellow in the mechanical engineering department.

Master’s candidate Jeremy Peña is working on the project as well. Another master’s candidate, Scott Hightower, was on the research team until his graduation in the spring. The three-year project is being funded by the Air Force