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SmartBird - bioinspired robotic bird by FESTO
by IKE 20-Aug-2011 19:48

The latest addition to the long line of the famous biomemetic robots of Festo is the SmartBird, a flying model that shares the same principal of operation with birds and in particular it is inspired from the herring gull. Read below for more details and videos.---

The SmartBird is lightweight and it can emulate very accurately the function of a bird even though it uses only a single electric motor and 4 servos. It has two interconnected rods that dictate the wing flapping movement and a servo located at each wingtip to actively twist the wing. Another pair of servos controls the 2doF tail and 'head'.


Birds are flying in a way closer to helicopters than airplanes and somehow they combine the benefits of both. Their wings follow a periodic reciprocating pattern that on its own creates the relative air velocity necessary for generating lift. This enables them to use their wing both for propulsion and lift while they can also take-off instantly and hover. When air velocity is high enough they are also able to hover or glide without consuming any energy.

The SmartBird can take-off and land autonomously. In-flight control is provided by the active twist of the wing (like the Flyer I of the Wright Brothers!) and the movement of the tail.


The movement of birds is a subject of study for a very long time. Étienne-Jules Marey, a cinematography pioneer invented a camera that shoot images in quick succession at the same frame in 1882:

The tiltrotor and various other VSTOL concepts are also inspired from the flying abilities of birds. This was also a pitch during the tiltrotor program that lead to V-22, an aircraft that can fly as a bird, combining the benefits of a fixed wing airplane and a helicopter.

More info: http://www.festo.com/cms/en_corp/11369.htm

SmartBird demo flight during a TED talk:TED talks | A robot that flies like a bird

(images/videos: Festo - public domain)

This post was written for http://www.robotspodcast.com/

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