Lab on a Bird
This project focuses on expanding the current capabilities of avian tracking tags biologists use to study bird behaviors and movements. The researchers of the Laboratory for Intelligent Machine Systems focus on energy harvesting methods which will greatly extend the operational period of the tracking tag electronics.
While current avian tracking tag solutions utilize solar energy harvesting successfully, diurnal cycles limit the robustness of this method. To help increase the time during which the energy harvesting solutions provide energy to the tag electronics, piezoelectric energy harvesting from the bird's vibrations is being explored. Figures 2 shows the maximum theoretically harvestable power from various species of birds.
However, the amount of power which the piezoelectric energy harvester can actually provide to the tag electronics is limited by the device's specific energy. This value is related to the piezoelectric material efficiency in addition the device design and the excitation characteristics. Figure 3 shows the practically harvestable power based on bird mass and the transducer specific power.