By Vamien McKalin | May 04, 2013 10:38 AM EDT
We've told you about the flying robot insect known as RoboBee from scientists at Harvard, and now researchers at the University of Maryland have come up with an awesome robot bird that is able to take flight like a real bird.
The Robo Raven was brought to life by a professor at the University of Maryland, SK Gupta. Apparently, having a robot bird that is able to mimic a real bird in flight has always been a thing he wanted to accomplish, but couldn't, due to the limitations of technology. Now with the massive advances in new technology, Gupta has finally brought to life a robot bird that is worthy of attention.
"I wanted to build a bird with completely independent wings that can be programmed with any arbitrary motion profiles," Gupta said. "We did a preliminary experiment five years ago, but unfortunately it was not successful at that time. So we shelved the idea for few years. Hugh Bruck and I revived the idea again about a year ago. I am happy to report that we finally had a breakthrough last week. The students responsible for this success are Eli Barnett, John Gerdes, Johannes Kempny, Ariel Perez-Rosado and Luke Roberts. Our new robot is based on a fundamentally new design concept. We call it Robo Raven. It features programmable wings that can be controlled independently. We can now program any desired motion patterns for the wings. This allows us to try new in-flight aerobatics that would have not been possible before."
Each of Robo Raven's wings is powered by two independent actuators that allow the bird to flap and mimic an actual bird wing. The video below shows all of this in action, and it is pretty awesome. Robo Raven was so graceful in flight that a real hawk mistook it for a threat and swooped down for the attack; fortunately, Robo Raven escaped unhurt.
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