Oceanographer Phil Richardson created this conceptual illustration of a robotic unmanned aerial vehicle soaring over the ocean, taking advantage of the same physics that an albatross does to fly fast and efficiently. Captions and Image source: Photo source: © Phil Richardson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Oceanographer Phil Richardson formally retired in 1999, but that hardly diminished his passion and curiosity. Last year, he combined his scientific knowledge with longstanding interests in sailing and flying to show how albatrosses elegantly take advantage of winds and waves to fly long distances over the open ocean without flapping their wings.
Now he is working with radio-controlled glider pilots to see if they can harness the same power source to develop a high-speed robotic albatross—an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that could soar over the ocean on surveillance, search and rescue, and environmental monitoring missions…