Birds have long been an inspiration to humankind’s dream of flight. Today, drone makers are starting to take inspiration from these feathered animals.
Festo, a German automation company famous for its new flying products, recently created a robotic “army” of birds called BionicSwift that you can see at a glance. indistinguishable from their biological brethren. Previously, this company had introduced a lot of mechanical creatures capable of flying, from butterflies, to flying penguins, and even flying jellyfish!
Designed to mimic real-life birds, Festo’s robotic birds are super lightweight and aerodynamic, giving them flexible movements with high control, from tumbling to skillful swings.
The engineers focused on making BionicSwift as light as real birds, meaning each robot bird will weigh about 42g, equivalent to a golf ball. The robot has a length of 17.5 inches and wingspan of nearly 27 inches.
The feathers of a bird are not genuine, but are designed based on the real thing. Each individual part of the wing is made up of light and supple sponges. Each “feather” is superimposed on the next one, just like a roof tile, and connected to a carbon tube. The complete coat is attached to the main and secondary feathers so they can slide in and out synchronously, just like a real bird’s feather.
For example, in one swing of the wing, air can pass through the wing to propel it upwards. The wing sections close during the next descent to create a stronger downward force; The smaller the robotic bird becomes by shrinking its wings, the less friction it creates.
Inside each BionicSwift, there’s a cover that covers the flapping mechanism and communication device assembly. This cluster consists of a brushless motor, two servo motors, a battery, a gear, and several radio boards, control and positioning. Festo says the “intelligent interaction” between the motors and the mechanical system helps to adjust the frequency of flapping wings and lift angles to perform certain movements – from winding to falling – back down. should be feasible.
Indoor GPS units rely on radio waves to help locate each BionicSwift, so they capture the surrounding space and fly in a directional pattern. This cluster has several radio modules mounted in a predetermined space, and each bird has a marking device to send signals to the control center.
Based on these signals (ping), the system can determine the exact position of each bird, sending data back to the host computer acting as the navigation system. The system can guide the robotic birds to fly in a pre-programmed path, and if they deviate from the wind or some other environmental condition, the birds can automatically correct the flight path.
So far, no bird robot model is considered the most advanced. In January, researchers at Stanford University’s Biological Design Research and Design Laboratory (BIRD) created a PigeonBot with real feathers that can slide along the neck and fingers. of the robot to create aerodynamic shapes in the air – something that even the best engineers and designers cannot reproduce.
“Nature has far surpassed our aviation engineers“- David Lentink, an aerospace engineer and Stanford biologist, led the project.We only started flying 100 years ago, and birds began to evolve more than 100 million years ago“.
Festo says that their sophisticated BionicSwift robot birds could be used to pinpoint exactly where goods are moving in a smart factory in the future, thereby helping to avoid bottlenecks.
But that is now possible through cheaper, somewhat clumsy warehouse drones. Corvus Robotics, a logistics and supply chain company in Boston, Massachusetts, created one of these solutions last year, combining drones with machine learning software that identifies packages from above. is not.
But why don’t we try to host a variety show with the protagonist, the robotic birds flying spectacularly?