Scientists have discovered how thousands of starling birds can fly in formation without colliding with each other.
Naturally, they're now applying what they've learned to make ... swarms of robots:
... it turns out that the secret is for each bird to track seven others, says the first detailed direct observations to have been reported by STARFLAG - Starlings in Flight - a European project involving biologists, physicists, and economists. [...]
The team also concludes that the birds are smarter than was thought. “An interaction based upon the number of neighbours, rather than their distance, implies rather complex cognitive capabilities in birds,” adds Irene Giardina, a fellow researcher, of the Centre for Statistical Mechanics and Complexity in Rome.