SmartBird: A Real Robot that can Fly Like a Bird

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Watch the video… A lot of robots are able to fly — but none of them are able to fly like a real bird. That could be, until finally Markus Fischer and his crew at Festo constructed SmartBird, a large, lightweight robot, modeled on a seagull, that flies by flapping its wings. A soaring demo fresh from TEDGlobal 2011.

SmartBird is an ultralight but highly effective flight model with fantastic aerodynamic qualities and extreme agility. With SmartBird, Festo has succeeded in deciphering the flight of birds – one of the oldest dreams of humankind.

This bionic technology-bearer, that is inspired by the herring gull, can get started, fly and land autonomously – with no extra drive mechanism. Its wings not just beat up and down, but additionally twist at precise angles. This is made possible by an active articulated torsional drive unit, which in mixture using a complicated control technique attains an unprecedented level of efficiency in flight operation. Festo has thus succeeded for the very first time in making an energy-efficient practical adaptation of this model from nature.

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