A German company Festo has developed BionicSwift – robotic birds weighing only 42 grams and capable of flying indoors along a programmed path for roughly seven minutes.
Although Festo created miniaturized robots before, it’s the first time they’ve created something like that – tiny birds able to float in the air, slide, and even guide themselves thanks to the radio system.
Officially named BionicSwift, the next-generation robot is able to fly thanks to ultra-light artificial feathers.
Each robo-bird weighs only 42 grams, which means that nine of them would weigh as much as a full bottle of the soft drink – or about twice as much as a real swallow. Festo managed to get the birds to fly in a realistic motion thanks to artificial feathers and soft plates covering their bodies.
When BionicSwift takes off, these lightweight plates rise to ensure lift. And when the robo-birds descend, the plates release the fans so that they can slide gracefully, or make sharp turns and fly in a loop.
“The intelligent interaction of engines and mechanics allows you to precisely adjust the frequency of the wing and the angle of attack of the elevator for different maneuvers,” says Festo in a commentary for Sky News.
The battery that feeds the birds weighs only six grams, allowing only about seven minutes of flight. Flights are also restricted to a closed area, which is dotted with GPS transponder for guiding birds along a programmed flight path. although they are able to reroute if their flight is disturbed by winds or gusts. Alternatively, they may be transported if their flight is disrupted by winds or gusts.
“Smart flight network and GPS routing create a 3D navigation system that can be used in the networked factory of the future,” says Festo.
The firm acknowledges that the robotic birds don’t have any business applications yet, but it hopes to find one or several use cases in the future.
But even though BionicSwallow remains just a toy for now, it’s an amazing toy!