- Materials & Industrial Technology
Festo’s SmartBird, Fly Like a Bird
This time I’ll share about how the people created amazing technology inspired by animal. I think many of us love birds and I have wrote about another amazing technology inspired with bird. To remind us again, you can read “Nano Hummingbird, a Spy Bird”. A beautiful bird made by United States Defense Department. One of the oldest dreams of human is to fly like a bird. We can move freely through the air in all dimensions and see the world from a distance with “bird’s-eye view”. Actually in 1490, Leonardo da Vinci was flapping wing models in order to come closer to achieving bird flight. The era has changed. There are many researches proved Leonardo’s theory.
And now, we can see something amazing which is use a bird as an inspiration. The engineers of Festo’s Bionic Learning Network created a flight model that is capable of taking off autonomously. This bird also has ability in rising in the air by means of its flapping wings alone. The best part of this robot is it can fly without the aid of other devices to provide lift. They called this invention is Smartbird. It is a robot that can fly with the movement like the real bird. It has excellent aerodynamic qualities and extreme agility like a normal bird. With SmartBird, Festo (the creator) has succeeded in deciphering the flight abilities of birds into the excellent technology.
SmartBird brings bionic technology-bearer, inspired by the herring gull. This bird can start flying from the ground independently (fly and land autonomously), without the additional drive mechanism. The Wings are not only move up and down, but also rotating at certain angles. This is made possible by the active articulated torsional by drive unit, which in combination with complex control systems to achieve levels of efficiency. It’s never happened before in flight operations. It’s the first time in creating a technical adaptation of energy-efficient models from nature. There are several parts of this robot and they have own function, like: the wing can lift and propulsion in birds, tail section as an aid for lift and controlling movement. Directional control is achieved through the torso sections and the movement of the robot's head.
SmartBird has weight about 450 grams, boasts a wingspan about 1.96 m or 6.4 feet, torso length about 1.07 m. This robot has a lightweight carbon fibre structure and electronic controls (two electric motors and cables). Festo has demonstrated amazing technology and describe how sophisticated this robots which can fly. Aerodynamically feature is very efficient, even turning its head to perform aerobatics movements. We can find larger implications of this robot. Just imagine a flight model or robotic spy plane packed with ultra-lightweight GPS, powerful battery (lithium polymer accumulator, 2 cells, 7.4 V, 450 mA) and a high precision camera and microphone.
The surveillance data can be collected from this robot will certainly impressive and more stylized than any spies android devices out there. SmartBird uses two-way Zigbee radio communication that conveys information to a computer. So, wing position and torsion can be monitored in real time during flight. The torsion control parameters can be adjusted in real time during flight and thus optimized. SmartBird is the result of good cooperation between Dr. Wilfried Stoll as project initiator, Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Markus Fischer as project manager, Rainer Mugrauer, Günter Mugrauer, Andreas Schadhauser for design and production. I hope you enjoy all pictures and the video as well.