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Bats Inspiring Future Micro Unmanned Aircraft

megaduck Whoops! (76 comments)

Looks like the link I gave is bad. Try looking at the Wikipedia entry, particularly the "Aerial Robots" section.

about 6 years ago

Bats Inspiring Future Micro Unmanned Aircraft

megaduck Re:Not a new model (76 comments)

I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree. I think that we don't do enough biomimetic design, especially for production systems. Look around you. What was built using biological principles? The answer's probably "not much".

The problem seems to be engineers' blindness to "solved problems". Once somebody comes up with a workable solution, everybody just iterates upon it rather than stopping and rethinking the problem entirely. Take the "bat-craft" example. UAV design has consistently been a process of taking classic aircraft design, and then shrinking it. The problems are well understood, but you're never going to get any revolutionary features.

A couple of years ago, I was part of a competition for AUV design (autonomous submarines). Every single entry, except for ours, used the same principles that we've been using on submarines for forever. Pressure hull, with tandem thrusters for turning and propulsion. We tried to go with a more "natural" design, copying fish (flooded hull, the whole body was a control surface).

Talking to the big defense contractors that build these things for the military, all of their designs lacked any biomimetic features. Current AUV design consists of taking classic submarine designs, making them smaller, and whacking out the crew compartment. A lot of them are pretty cool, but they're certainly not borrowing anything from nature.

The same situation exists with UAV design. Look at the designs for the Int'l Aerial Robotics Competition. These are the engineering students that get recruited to design and build "the real thing" for Northrup Grumman and General Atomics. Smart guys, but they're (generally) not looking to nature.

about 6 years ago

For CS Majors, How Important Is the "Where?"

megaduck Re:Great programmers have formal training (991 comments)

They're a mathematical concept useful for some pretty cool stuff. Google was built on a fixed point function.

From wikipedia:

The vector of PageRank values of all web pages is the fixed point of a linear transformation derived from the World Wide Web's link structure.

The wikipedia entry.

more than 6 years ago


megaduck hasn't submitted any stories.



Soooo sleeepyyyy....

megaduck megaduck writes  |  more than 12 years ago

I've often wondered what drives me to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. Running on four hours of sleep destroys my productivity and sucks the fun out of my day. Sleep deprivation sucks. Why do I pursue it?

Maybe it's boredom. Going to school and working full time doesn't provide for a lot of variety in my days, so maybe I'm trying to stimulate myself by making simple things like holding a conversation or walking a challenge. If I start challenging myself in other ways, will I go to bed earlier?

I'd love to pursue this more, but I'm passing out from exhaustion. I'll mark this as a "to-be-continued".


Hello world.

megaduck megaduck writes  |  more than 12 years ago

Wow. My very first journal entry. It's a very strange feeling. I've always wanted my very own blog, but now that I've got one I find I don't really have anything to say. Who am I to lecture the world? What can I offer? What parts of myself do I want to show?

Hmmmm... Because I am a true geek, I think I'll talk about my new calculator. It's an HP 49g, and I am absolutely in love with it. Between RPN and "exact" mode, it's like some kind of math laser. If I'm working on a multi-step problem I can just shuffle things up and down the stack until I've got one big ugly (yet precise) expression. Then hit Right-Arrow -> Enter and *wham* I've got the correct answer to as many decimal places as I want. This is a big revelation to me. I'm totally used to having funky rounding errors that stack up on each other until the final answer is significantly off.

Until I got the HP I was borrowing my girlfriend's TI-83 and I could never quite get the hang of it. Algebraic notation on a calculator seems backwards somehow. It's not how I think. Give me RPN any day of the week.

I'm only in Trig right now, so I'm not sure how much of this calculator's potential I'm going to use. At least I know that I'm not going to outgrow it. It looks like this thing will take me all the way through school handily. I can't wait to start learning about matrices and higher math so I can really start using this thing. My folks bought me the Ferrari, now I need to learn to drive.

I haven't felt this giddy about a new toy since I got my Macintosh.

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