A German automation company has deciphered the flight of birds with the development of the world's first robotic bird that could pave the way to a new generation of process automation components.
Festo’s Smart Bird, which uses a compact 135 brushless motor, can start, fly and land autonomously. An articulated torsional drive unit allows the bird to beat its wings up and down as well twist at specific angles.
Built from carbon fibre and polyurethane foam, the ultralight Smart Bird weighs 485 grams, operates at 23 watts and can be controlled from the ground using a radio controller.
According to Festo, the bird’s functional integration of coupled drive units could potentially be transferred to the development and optimisation of a range of hybrid drive technology - from generators that derive energy from water to new actuators in process automation.
The minimal use of materials and the bird's lightweight construction also pave the way for efficiency in resource and energy consumption, says Festo.
The Smart Bird was inspired and modelled on the herring gull.