New mechanical sensors will give drones a "spider sense" of danger

If you remember, the main character of the blockbuster "Spider-Man" Peter Parker could not only shoot cobwebs and run along the walls, but also had a "spider flair" - the ability to sense impending danger and instantly react to it.

And this is not an invention of the writers. Real spiders have sensitive hairs on their legs that help them avoid encounters with enemies and get their own food. A team of engineers at Purdue University, taking advantage of such a unique clue from nature, has developed similar sensors for autonomous cars and drones.

One of the main features of these organs on the legs of a spider is the ability to respond exclusively to information vital to it. For example, spiders clearly separate the vibrations of the web due to prey trapped in them from the vibrations caused by the wind.

Scientists' sensors will also ignore random, minor impacts and fire when really needed. The trick is that the sensors are made of a material that quickly changes its shape when exposed to external influences. As soon as these changes reach a certain limit, conductive particles inside the material join together and begin to transmit electricity. As a result, the formed impulse signals the car about danger.

New sensors change shape when physically stimulated

Such a system requires significantly less energy and computing power, thus the drone computer is freed from the need to constantly evaluate unnecessary influences to make decisions.

The new sensors can be used in airplanes, drones and autonomous vehicles to help them detect obstacles in time and avoid collisions.