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BionicSwift drone from Festo flaps its wings and flies like a real bird

Festo’s BionicSwift drone flaps its wings to fly just like its feathered cousins. It has been designed to show how lightweight materials can be used to create semi-autonomous flight technology.

Festo’s BionicSwift drone flaps its wings to fly like a real bird

Festo’s BionicSwift drones are a concept developed by the German industrial automation firm Festo. a company that has also been working on robotic versions of kangaroos, bats, and jellyfish.

The semi-autonomous birds have been developed to ‘demonstrate what is possible within ‘robotics’. Each bird is GPS-controlled and weighs about 42 grams with a wingspan of 27 inches. According to the German company, these bionic birds will be able to perform loopings and tight turns.

Festo suggests that the BionicSwift drones can be safely flown indoors but they should also be robust enough to withstand outdoor gusts.

The robot ‘bionic’ birds replicate natural flight and use individual overlapping feathers that are made from lightweight, flexible foam.

Feathers are connected by carbon quills. When the wings move upwards the air can pass through the feathers, while on the downstroke the air cannot and thus providing trust.

The BionicSwift drones include an onboard radio beacon that communicates with a computer that plots the flight path on a 3D map. The robot bionic bird has a small processor onboard to help make corrections mid-flight in case it gets hit by a gust of wind.

Steve Sands, Festo’s head of product management and marketing, said designers “used the natural world as a creative spur” to show what was now possible in robotics.

Festo's BionicSwift drone flaps its wings to fly like a real bird

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Haye Kesteloo

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