Robot Birds Look and Fly Like the Real Thing in Germany

We’ve seen robot dogs, cats, and most recently dolphins. Now one engineering company is looking to the skies with a robot that may be the most realistic yet.

German company Festo has created robotic birds that fly around just like the real thing. Named BionicSwift, they resemble a swallow and fly around thanks to ultra-lightweight artificial feathers and soft plates covering their bodies.

The robot birds only weigh about 1.5 ounces which is about the same as a slice of bread and double the weight of a real swallow bird. The birds can fly for about seven minutes on one battery.

When the robots ascend, the lightweight plates bunch up to provide the lift – and when the robo-birds descend, the plates fan out to allow them to glide gracefully, or to make sharp turns and fly in loops.

“The intelligent interaction of motors and mechanics allows the frequency of the wing beat and the elevator’s angle of attack to be precisely adjusted for the various maneuver,” says Festo.

BionicSwift Robot Bird Flies Indoors Guided by GPS

As of now the birds fly in an enclosed area. GPS transponders help guide them through a programmed fly path. They can reroute if something gets in their way or are disturbed by winds.

Currently, BionicSwift is just an experiment but the company feels the technology could be quite beneficial in manufacturing or large connected environments.

“The intelligent networking of flight objects and GPS routing makes for a 3D navigation system that could be used in the networked factory of the future,” said the company.