The robot, aptly named SmartBird, has just been unveiled by Festo, the robotics company known for its bionic animal designs. It has previously created penguins that can communicate with each other to avoid collisions and a robotic elephant’s trunk designed to grip objects and safely interact with humans.
SmartBird is modelled on the herring gull and can take off, fly and land while its flight is controlled remotely from the ground in real time.
To take off, the robotic bird flaps its wings with the help of an onboard motor. As the wings beat, the front edge also twists, enabling airflow along the wings to generate thrust. Once in flight, the tail acts as a rudder to steer the bird through the air.