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Watch: Robot Bird


No doubt the military will soon be teaching it how to shoot to kill.

Festo, its creator, writes:

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.


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  1. More likely to have recon and surveillance applications. I would imagine any type of ordinance would make it much too heavy to fly effectively, if at all. A camera on the other hand would be rather handy. Although the up and down motion might be a problem. Personally I'd stick with current technologies. Quadrotors in particular.

    Posted by: Matt | Mar 28, 2011 8:37:02 PM

  2. Just like Control G on the Mach 5.

    Posted by: SammySeattle | Mar 28, 2011 8:45:22 PM

  3. A single one might not be able to do much damage, but unleash a flock of these on an unsuspecting crowd---or, more likely, unliked/unwanted foreign officials---and it could likely take them out quite easily. It's amazingly natural looking, not like the drones that everyone knows come from the US, and even if captured could be designed to be impossible to trace to the perpetrator. I wonder how far the range is between the controller and the "bird"?

    Though I agree that surveillance would also be incredibly effective, at least in areas with similar looking birds. And presumably its design could be altered to fit in with local birds.

    Either way, militaries worldwide will be all over this.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 28, 2011 8:50:44 PM

  4. Hmmm. Didn't show it starting and landing autonomously. I'm a bit skeptical. And the battery life? It would only seem useful if it could fly for a while without the battery dying.

    Posted by: Mr. E | Mar 28, 2011 9:57:13 PM

  5. Def. needs to leave some droppings.

    Posted by: Rob | Mar 28, 2011 10:38:42 PM

  6. @Mr. E: "autonomously" seems a poor word choice here. I looked up an article on it because I wanted to know more about who made it, and by autonomously they actually mean by remote control, and they don't say how close the controller needs to be. So no, it doesn't just decide to start flying on its own.

    I assume it would be dropped in a field or something by an aircraft, then controlled by someone on that aircraft or fairly nearby.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 29, 2011 12:23:57 AM

  7. Yeah, well that had a robot pterodactyl in WarGames.

    Posted by: Randy | Mar 29, 2011 12:53:04 AM

  8. Reminds me of the Robert Sheckley story "Watchbird" that was produced for the TV series Masters of Science Fiction.

    Posted by: Michael | Mar 29, 2011 5:00:06 AM

  9. This is what we'll be watching fly around once all the birds die off due to pollution and radiation. Here comes that "silent spring" we've all been dreading... any day now.

    Posted by: johnny | Mar 29, 2011 7:11:37 AM

  10. Oddly, as an engineer, I find this sad to see that we can now successfully mimic something that perplexed men for so many years
    OK then, now lets see if they can do a Bumble Bee.

    Posted by: Pup | Apr 17, 2011 12:32:11 PM

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