The German robotics company Festo has released a video of an incredibly realistic fleet of robot birds gliding through the air.
Festo has been an innovator of miniaturized robotic devices for years. They have manufactured robotic gulls, jellyfish, butterflies, and kangaroos, among others .
Their latest creation, the BionicSwift , improves upon previous avian robotic efforts by featuring an ultra-lightweight construction with artificial feathers. Each of the five swallows weighs 42 grams, and is powered by three small motors for steering, lifting and lowering. Its wingspan extends to 66 centimeters.
When the BionicSwift models are raised, the artificial blades and feathers are grouped together to help provide lift. When they descend, they unfold to allow air to pass through. They can glide gracefully, make sharp turns and fly in loops, mimicking reality itself in many ways .
These robot birds carry a 6 gram battery and are guided by GPS sensors located throughout the flight area. The birds follow a pre-programmed flight path, but if an unexpected factor arises, such as a gust of air, radio communication allows for an instantaneous flight path change.
For now, the miniaturized batteries allow only seven minutes of flight time.