A few years ago, U.K. wildlife photographer William Burrard-Lucas started building a series of remote controlled DSLR camera vehicles as a DIY project. Named the BeetleCam, it’s now better protected, has space for a GoPro, and is a commercially available product.
Continuing to improve on his ideas and invent new ways to observe wildlife, Burrard-Lucas developed a gyro-stabilized BeetleBot and a BeetleCopter, which filmed the above scenes in the Serengeti, though they’re working on a quieter version. (A note for sensitive kiddos: half of a fresh kill shown at 2m14s.)
Below, a project update that shows all of his “camtraptions.”
In the coming year, engineers will continue working on the prototype, which the company boasts will be lighter, safer, quieter and greener than any other helicopter in the world.
That’s because a traditional helicopter uses one rotor to provide lift and a tail rotor to prevent the aircraft from spinning in circles. It maneuvers by changing the pitch of the two rotors. The volocopter has 18 small rotors mounted in a configuration that provides lift without causing the vehicle to spin. It navigates by changing the speed of individual rotors.
When this flight paths of starlings video by artist and professor Dennis Hlynsky went viral, it sparked a lot of questions for us: How did he make the visualizations? How do the starlings move quickly as a flock? What makes other groups of animals move the way they do?
In Micromigrationsfrom The Atlantic, Hlynsky discusses his own questions as we observe the water striders, ants, starlings, vultures, crows, and little white flying bugs that continue to inspire his curiosity and his work.