The next time you see a seagull soaring in the sky, be sure to look again, for while it may resemble the graceful white bird, it may actually be an ultra light flying robot, that could possibly be spying on your activities!
Dubbed SmartBird, the Seagull robot, which is made from ultra-lightweight carbon materials has a wingspan of 6.4ft. (1.96m) and weighs a mere 450gms (33% less than an iPad2). It takes off and lands just like a real bird and thanks to a built-in lever mechanism, also flaps its wings up and down, when it soars across the skies - And, it also has the capability to twist, so that it can achieve the best angle to generate the maximum amount of lift, without spending too much energy - Something most other ornithopters cannot do.
SmartBird can also control its direction by moving its head and torso in different directions - something that is achieved by built-in electric motors and cables that help synchronize the two movements. Just like in real birds the SmartBird's tail helps stabilize it and also acts as a rudder, when the bird is trying to make a left or right turn.
As you have probably guessed by now, a bird as brilliant as this, cannot be flying on helium. The SmartBird's entire 'brain and power', which includes battery, engine, transmission, as well as, control and regulation electronics, are packed inside its belly. Though autonomous, the robot's wing position and torsion can be monitored and adjusted remotely, thanks to a two-way communication radio, fitted inside.
While Festo AG, the German company behind this brilliant robot, maintains that the SmartBird was created so that it could use some of the ideas to better its other products, some people believe if fitted with a GPS device, a more powerful battery and some high-precision cameras and microphones, it would make for a pretty awesome and effective spy - The only give away? The fact that it will never steal your sandwich or chips, nor, gift you with any droppings.
This is not the first time the Germancompany has created cool robots. In 2009, they introduced Bionic Penguins - Who unlike their real-life counterparts, can fly through water and air! Wonder what they will come up with next.
Resources: fastcompany.com, gizmag.com