Tiny ground-based six-legged reconnaissance robots have trouble scrambling over inclines and obstacles, so Berkeley engineers Ronald Fearing and Kevin Peterson have been working on “a hybrid locomotion mode, where flapping wings and legs combine to propel the robot.” Not content with peeking into the future, the engineers decided to team up with paleobiologist Robert Dudley for a peek into the past.
Evolutionists believe dinosaurs evolved into birds but are a little fuzzy about how primitive wings were used before bird ancestors evolved the ability to fly. The “trees-down” camp believes winged ancestors in trees glided down until they evolved true flight capability. The “ground-up” contingent opts for a flap-running scenario by which animals would use their wings to assist with climbing until they evolved enough speed for lift-off.
Dudley and the engineers put their winged and unwinged robots through a host of athletic scenarios while filming and measuring their performance.
Dudley and the engineers put their winged and unwinged robots through a host of athletic scenarios while filming and measuring their performance. The robots ran on a level floor and up hills. They ran with and without flapping. And they glided from on high.
Flapping their wings helped in every event. Flapping significantly improved gliding performance. But although flapping robots were able to run 90% faster, they couldn’t achieve the 400% increase in speed required to generate lift. Therefore, Peterson says, “This result lends indirect support to the theory that avian flight evolved from tree-dwelling animals and not from land animals that required ground-based running takeoffs.”
Energy-saving flap-running1 is often seen in baby birds learning to fly and in adult birds—even flightless ones—running uphill. These robotic simulations confirm flapping helps with gliding, running, and climbing. Published in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, the results show how engineers use biomimicry—copying God’s designs—to build better robots. But the results do not demonstrate that animals evolved the ability to fly, much less how they could acquire de novo genetic information to grow wings.
God created birds on the fifth day of Creation week, fully fitted with wings. They did not have to evolve feathers, wings, or the ability to fly. These robots may have shown one hypothetical scenario more feasible than another, but neither is possible at all since animal kinds do not acquire the information to evolve into other kinds of animals. Birds have no reptilian ancestor but were created by God to reproduce after their kinds.
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