05 November 2019 04:32

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A depiction of an optimal school of swimmers in terms of speed and energy savings: a diamond-shaped lattice arrangement in which each fish has one direct upstream neighbor as well as two neighbors upstream and somewhat displaced to each side. A team of researchers has identified the best arrangements for fish swimming in schools—formations that are superior in terms of saving energy while also optimizing speed. Its findings, which appear in the journal Physical Review X, point to potential new ways to enhance energy-producing technologies. The work, conducted by researchers at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, also confirms a long-held belief: fish swimming in orderly groups or formations spend less energy and move faster than when swimming alone. Using a new type of mathematical model, the team, which also included Michael Shelley, a professor at the Courant Institute, and Anand Oza, an assistant professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, focused on several arrangements of swimmers to see which were the best in terms of saving the energy required to swim and enhancing the speed of swimming for the group.

In particular, using computer simulations, they examined how multiple flapping swimmers emit vortices, or swirling flows, and also interact with the vortex flows produced by others in the school. A video of an optimal school of swimmers in terms of speed and energy savings: a diamond-shaped lattice arrangement in which each fish has one direct upstream neighbor as well as two neighbors upstream and somewhat displaced to each side. Credit: Anand Oza, New Jersey Institute of Technology In every school formation tested, the group of swimmers used less energy and moved faster than did solitary swimmers, with some notable differences among these arrangements: Phalanx arrangements, in which fish are lined up side-by-side, showed modest improvements over a solitary swimmer; Tandem formations, in which fish are lined up single file one after another, showed even more improvement over a solitary swimmer; Rectangular lattice formations—which combine the phalanx and tandem formations so that each fish has neighbors directly upstream, downstream and to either side—were superior to both the tandem and phalanx schools; Diamond-shaped lattices, in which each fish has one direct upstream neighbor as well as two neighbors upstream and somewhat displaced to each side, yielded the greatest speeds and largest energy savings—i.e., the best formation tested. "By formulating a mathematical model capable of handling many swimmers interacting through their collectively generated flows, we think we have offered some concrete support for the idea that schooling fish may benefit from flow interactions," observes Ristroph. Oza et al, Lattices of Hydrodynamically Interacting Flapping Swimmers, Physical Review X (2019).

Oza et al, Lattices of Hydrodynamically Interacting Flapping Swimmers,(2019). Anyone who works with commercial drone technology knows that public support continues to be an issue that stands in the way of widespread adoption. Swaying the court of public opinion is a challenge that commercial UAV operators will have to overcome if the industry is to draw new talent into the field and change prohibitive regulations. Programs like M3 Aerial Productions' "Drones in the Classroom" (DITC) RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system) Training are not only designed to create a proactive way to garner support for the commercial UAV industry, but they're also set to build a capable workforce that can utilize drones in powerful ways. Drones in the classroom have the potential to attract new talent, but also normalize the technology through repeated exposure in education. Although bringing new technology into the classroom is not a new approach—when computers first became readily available, they were introduced into school programs for similar reasons—this type of training could have a profound impact on the future of the drone industry. As we have seen with computers, children who work with and around technology from a young age are more likely to embrace the benefits in order to enable their eventual adoption of it as adults. This could open up new demand for drone technology, as well as more progressive drone legislation and regulations. This is why Matthew Johnson, President of M3 Aerial Productions, is working to encourage educators to introduce drones into their classrooms, and it's something he's uniquely qualified to do. Before he started his career in drones, he was a high school mathematics teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba. There he learned first-hand how drones could add value to the classroom by using them to teach trigonometry to his students. Once Mr. Johnson introduced drones into the lesson plan though, he discovered that students were not only understanding trigonometry, but they were actually enjoying it. This experience eventually led him to the career he is in today: training people of all ages to operate drones safely, compliantly, and intelligently. "It's the duty of teachers to instill in youth an enthusiasm for the technology, because that is what our future is predicated on," Johnson told Commercial UAV News. He mentioned that right now, most students and teachers are not aware that there are career opportunities in commercial UAV. This is the issue he's looking to address with programs like "Drones in the Classroom". "We have to regularly voice the message that drones are not just for real estate, and they are not just for fun photography stuff; that is just a small portion of the applications of drone technology." Johnson said. Some of this work is extremely dangerous, and it boggles the mind how many people are putting their safety at risk, when we can come in with drones and do those jobs at a fraction of the risk." That's one of the reasons he encourages teachers to look at the bigger picture and convey to students that drones are used for many applications like agriculture, search and rescue, and pipeline, hydro line, and rail line inspections. In order to get this message out, teachers not only have to know how to fly a drone, they have to be transformed into quasi-experts on drones so that they are aware of their applications and uses. For this to be successful, any drone training program aimed toward educators needs to be structured so that it is easily accessible for educators. "It's essential to combine both the educator's and aviator's perspective when developing a program like this," Johnson continued. You need to approach drone training so that teachers can easily pass this on to students in a similar format, by breaking it down into steps and actionable processes." The training process begins with Advanced RPAS Ground School, which prepares teachers to obtain their advanced pilot certificate in Canada. The advanced certificate permits operators, among other things, to fly drones approved by Transport Canada within 16.4 feet of people not directly associated with the operator. This allows students to be up close and engaged with what the teacher is doing with the drone. The certification training is then followed by an extra day of training that teaches educators how to integrate drones into the classroom at a division-wide, and school level. Teachers are provided with lesson plans and strategies for bringing drones into their programs as tools to help achieve curricular outcomes, as well as best practices for proper care, safety, and maintenance of the drones. M3 Aerial recently introduced this new training program to educators at the Western Drone Show in Winnipeg this past May—an event specifically geared toward introducing educators to the drone industry, and conveying the value of drones. Drone operators, principals, teachers, and students from across Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario were in attendance. The event had a positive turnout and helped garner widespread support for their program. "As a result of the show, teachers have gone back to their schools and school divisions and written letters to their superintendents and principals to inform that drones are an extremely valuable tool," Johnson said. The Frontier School Division (FSD), who serves rural and remote communities across Manitoba, has embraced the DITC program, being one of the first school divisions in North America to adopt a division-wide drone integration program. FSD contributed a major component to the Western Drone Show, by presenting their journey through the program, from teacher-training, to divisional drone-kits, and assessment strategies. The Frontier School Division is a prime example of how a successful and dedicated drone program can positively impact a community. Their goal of this program is ultimately to help provide opportunities for students to obtain further certification, knowledge and skills that may enable them to contribute in their communities by means of new technology. "Frontier School Division are setting a new precedent by implementing a strategy at a divisional level," Johnson mentioned. Once interested students obtain their own certifications, they could potentially enter the workforce straight out of high school with a valuable new skill set. They could also take that interest and experience to post-secondary education, where they can help develop new, innovative applications for drone technology. Bringing drones into our schools is a promising path toward building a future workforce, big enough to handle an ever-growing demand, and to help change the overall perception of the technology.