We’ve been saying this for a while now, but we’ll say it again. The future of robotics will not look like some cliched, metallic machine, but rather it will be inspired by what already works in nature. Across, the globe, there are hundreds of teams working on robotic designs which are inspired by animals, leading to each next generation of bots looking more and more familiar to us as time goes on.
A great example of this trend in action is the Bionic Bird. This IndieGoGo project aims to build the world’s first networked and computer controlled drone, which flies not like a plane or a helicopter, but like a bird. Built by French inventor Edwin Van Ruymbeke, this device uses biomimicry to look and behave just like a bird, and in doing so, could potentially revolutionize the way we conceptualise drone aircraft.
The most obvious thing which you notice when you first see the Bionic Bird is that it looks just like a bird. It features two semi-flexible wings, a tail, and a streamlined body which looks much like a hawk or an eagle. Build from foam and carbon fibre, it is incredibly light, but also has enough power to allow for continuous flight and wireless navigation.
In flight the Bionic Bird is controlled by an app, which can be run on any Bluetooth 4.0 capable smartphone. Once in the air, the device is incredibly hard to distinguish from a normal bird. A user can allow it to take sweeping turns, steep climbs and dives out to a distance of 100 yards from the controller. After it has been flown, the bird this sits atop a specialized egg-shaped peripheral which recharges it in style.
IndieGoGo users have clearly been captivated by this Bionic Bird, as it has now more than quadrupled its $25,000 funding target. With this extra money its makers have added additional planned features which they want to add to the Bionic Bird in the months and years to come. These include smartwatch-based motion controls, the ability to hover in flight and also the ability to shoot Full HD video.
Should these additions be successful, the Bionic Bird will completely revolutionize drone surveillance. The reason for this is quite simple: it is almost undetectable. Unless you are standing meters away from this device you would never know that it is not a bird - indeed even other birds are apparently fooled. This means that it would become an almost perfect device for surveilling areas - especially urban ones - without attracting undue attention.
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