How Migrating Birds Can Soar To Such Great Heights

Image: holbox/Shutterstock Migratory birds can glide over very long distances with minimal wing-flapping, thanks to their strategic use of rising warm air currents. A new study has found that the birds use two basic sensory cues, combined with reinforcement learning algorithms (RLA), to navigate this turbulent environment. These new computer simulations employ the same architecture that Google used for its DeepMind AlphaGo program, which shocked the Go playing world when the AI beat professional champion Lee Sedol earlier this year. The lessons learned could help improve the design of long-distance automatous gliders and self-driving cars. Some species, like frigate birds, can migrate thousands of miles, for weeks on end, without ever landing. A study published earlier this month in Science found that the birds seek out rising air currents called…

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