Friday, July 29, 2011

Precious Robot Moments - a robot flies like a bird

I thought that the electronic butterfly in a jar had a realistic motion. Well, that it does, but now I'm fascinated by this robot bird modeled on a seagull. Needless to say, it flies by flapping its wings. But this is no basic up-and-down flapping like the classic Tim Bird wind-up flying toy. The segmented wings rotate on the way up to reduce the amount of air resistance. The construction and motion combine to create something functional and disarmingly lifelike

This incredible robot, dubbed SmartBird, was built by Markus Fischer and his team at Festo. The bird flies twice during this 6 minute TED lecture. You also get to see a stripped down version with its carbon fiber frame and gracile gear train.

I got a little choked up at the sight of a mechanical bird getting a standing ovation from the audience in attendance. Perhaps they are applauding the speaker, but it doesn't seem like it. I also love the look of pride on his face as the bird robot circles above the audience the first time. This episode of Precious Moments in the History of Robotics brought to you by TED and The Automata / Automaton Blog.

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