I am going to do my very best to try and illustrate just how awesome this carbon fiber, man-made flying bird is but you must watch the video to really grasp the idea. Appropriately named SmartBird, it is an ultra light flight model made with extreme agility and takes aerodynamic qualities to a whole new level. Festo truly has succeeded in deciphering the flight of birds, “one of the oldest dreams of mankind”.
Festo, the German based company that manufactured this ingenious bird, is a world-wide leading supplier of automation technology. They are known to be the performance leader in industrial training and educational programs. As stated on the company’s website, their aim is: “maximized productivity and competitiveness for our customers.”
The SmartBird, inspired by the herring gull, is built out of carbon fiber and polyurethane foam. It takes off by simply flapping its wings, flying and landing autonomously. Using its head to steer, the bird flaps and twists its wings to stay in flight. Weighing in around 1 lb, the bird has a wingspan of 6.5 ft and the wing positions are monitored with sensors that relay data to ground operators via a radio link.
The carbon fiber body encompasses a gear in it, used to transfer the circulation of the motor. It also houses a micro controller, four drive units, and a lithium polymer battery. The minimal use of materials and lightweight construction really paved the way for efficiency in resource and energy consumption making the SmartBird extremely energy efficient. This model alone has helped Festo by supplying them with knowledge on how to make other products more energy efficient.
Earlier this month, Festo presented the SmartBird to the audience at the TEDGlobal 2011 conference in Edinburgh, Scotland and was greeted by not one, but two standing ovations. “We try to mimic nature,” says designer Markus Fischer of the SmartBird, based on a herring gull.
Like I said, I would do my best to use words to illustrate how awesome the SmartBird is and hopefully the video helps too but I sure would have liked to have been at the TEDGlobal conference to see it and others like it in person. What do you think of the SmartBird?