Mechanical Bird uses its own wings to fly

by Mark R

I remember seeing pictures from DaVinci’s manuscripts of flying machines. Many of them were ornithopters, flying machines that use the flapping power that birds use to defy gravity. I remember even reading a short story once called “DaVinci Rising” that depicts the Renaissance great actually succeeding in his accomplishment.

Festo’s SmartBird is able to replicate the process, and has created a gigantic herring gull that can take off by flapping its wings, and can also land as well. There is no propeller or jet engine required, just the same natural power that sets birds to flight. It is all part of the Bionic Learning Network, adapting natural principles to technology to make things work.

As you can see, the SmartBird is about the size of a large Albatross, and has a massive 6.5 foot wingspan. However, it is made of carbon fiber and a polyurethane foam, so it weighs in at about 1 pound. It is powered by a lithium polymer battery, and it has sensors to relay data to ground operators for better control.

I’m not certain what one could use this for, except to make remote control bird toys. Unless it is possible to create a plane that is essentially one big ornithopter. Yeah, I’m not certain how practical that is.


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