The SmartBird, designed by Festo, is an ultra-light flying machine modeled on “herring gulls,” whatever those are (we have “seagulls” here), and it actually flies by flapping its wings as a bird would — not just up and down, either, but twisting at the precise angles that make precise flight possible.
It should be said that it’s not actually the same size as a bird — it has a 2-meter wingspan, making it more of an albatross simulator than anything. But it weighs less than half a kilogram, meaning it doesn’t take much to get it into the air. It can take off, fly, and land without any interference.
It’s really a bit creepy — like that hummingbird UAV we saw a little while back. But like that thing, the important part is really making it practical, by which I mean giving it more than a ten-second flight time. Batteries are heavy. But hey, if these guys can design a flying bird machine, I’m sure they can figure out the next bit.