Man’s early attempts to emulate bird flight didn’t go so well, resulting in ridiculous looking flying machines that crashed after barely getting off the ground, if they even got off the ground at all. This year, however, Germany-based Festo wowed a TED audience by showcasing SmartBird, a robot that flies solely by flapping its wings.
How does it do it? Well, for one thing, it’s super-light, weighing just under a pound for its long wingspan of almost 6-1/2 feet. It can also twist its wings and bend its torso for maneuverability, which would account for its natural-looking flight, modeled after that of a seagull.
The incredibly aerodynamic SmartBird can even take off, fly and land autonomously. While the bird isn’t slated for practical use just yet, Festo hopes to use what they learned designing the project in other areas of its pneumatic and electrical automation technology business.
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