The mad scientists over at Festo have designed an ornithopter drone that successfully mimics the flight of birds. Not to be overly paranoid but with all this talk of police drones, this kind of scares me.
SmartBird is an ultralight but powerful flight model with excellent aerodynamic qualities and extreme agility. With SmartBird, Festo has succeeded in deciphering the flight of birds – one of the oldest dreams of humankind. This bionic technology-bearer, which is inspired by the herring gull, can start, fly and land autonomously – with no additional drive mechanism. Its wings not only beat up and down, but also twist at specific angles. This is made possible by an active articulated torsional drive unit, which in combination with a complex control system attains an unprecedented level of efficiency in flight operation. Festo has thus succeeded for the first time in creating an energy-efficient technical adaptation of this model from nature.
Of course, if this doesn’t quite scratch that robotic animal itch, you may be interested in some of Festo’s other exploits including an underwater jellyfish, a flying stingray, and my personal favorite, a robot penguin with penetrating blue eyes.