Festo’s SmartBird is actually an ornithopter based on real seagull’s functions when it flies through the air.

Festo’s SmartBird is actually an ornithopter based on real seagull’s functions when it flies through the air.

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Rockstar Robots make up the cream of the crop in the world of robotics. These are the bots that will turn heads with just their name being uttered. Even those who don’t stay on top of who’s making what should recognize a famous robot or two when they see it.

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German company Festo is all about producing unusual robots that are based on their biological counterparts. This is true for their SmartBird as well, which is based on the herring gull and its flight characteristics. What makes this robot unique is that it can take off, fly, and land (perch?) all on its own.

Festo modeled the wings after its biological counterpart, meaning its wings not only flap up and down but can also twist at specific angles so that the outer edge is positioned upwards during the upward stroke, which provides lift.

The SmartBird’s wings can pivot along its length while flapping up and down, giving it the flight characteristics of a real bird.

The SmartBird’s wings can pivot along its length while flapping up and down, giving it the flight characteristics of a real bird.

The robotic bird can change its direction by turning its head and torso section through apposing movements, which is synchronized by two actuating motors. Much like an airliner, the bird’s tail is actuated to provide lift and yaw movement.

Hall Effect sensors outfitted in the wings and an accelerometer provide the SmartBird its location while data is processed by an MCU 32-bit microcontroller. While it may not be flesh and blood, watch the robotic bird in action and you can clearly see why Festo’s SmartBird has gained celebrity status.