Since 2007, researchers at the Maryland Robotics Center have been steadily upgrading Robo Raven, a super-realistic robotic bird that’s so lifelike it even fools the real thing. Its developers recently unveiled two new versions, including one that can take off by itself.

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Robo Raven — the brainchild of University of Maryland roboticist SK Gupta — is not the first robotic bird to take flight, but it is the first to have two independently functioning wings. With the support of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Gupta’s team is hoping to develop an agile and versatile robotic bird for use in a wide number of applications, both civilian and military.

With the introduction of the two new versions, Robo Raven IIIv3 and Robo Raven V, the research team has now taken their concept to the next level.

The latest iteration of Robo Raven III involves the introduction of solar cells that are integrated directly into the wings, body, and tail, which will allow the vehicle to fly for longer durations and distances. Previous versions only had the panels on the wings.

Robo Raven V is a bit different in that it uses both wings and propellers to generate more thrust and produce enhanced maneuverability. This bimodal propulsion allows it to perform tight and controlled aerobatics, carry heavier payloads (including onboard sensing and surveillance technologies), fly longer, and perform more bird-like soars and glides.

Amazingly, Robo Raven V is capable of taking off without any assistance.

Top image: UMDRobotics


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