German scientists build a mechanical seagull (that won't harass you at the beach)

Earlier this week we took a look at the mechanical animals of the German engineering firm Festo. Now Festo has built the SmartBird, an avian robot that takes flight on bionic wings.


Festo explains:

This bionic technology-bearer, which is inspired by the herring gull, can start, fly and land autonomously — with no additional drive mechanism. Its wings not only beat up and down, but also twist at specific angles. This is made possible by an active articulated torsional drive unit, which in combination with a complex control system attains an unprecedented level of efficiency in flight operation. Festo has thus succeeded for the first time in creating an energy-efficient technical adaptation of this model from nature.


Yes, Bubo the owl from Clash of the Titans is one step closer to being a reality.

[Spotted on Make]

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Erik Sofge

From Gizmag:

Festo says developing the SmartBird has provided insights that will help it in a variety of areas. The robot's minimal use of materials and lightweight construction will help increase efficiencies in resource and energy consumption, while the functional integration of its coupled drive units have provided ideas the company says it can transfer to the development of hybrid drive technology. Additionally, analysis of its flow characteristics during development has provided insights into ways to optimize future designs.

So it's neat, but doesn't actually have a purpose, or a boost in efficiency that they're comfortable talking about. Like with most bio-inspired robotics, I say, gimme more.