Video Shows Robo Raven Diving, Spiraling, Flipping—and Getting Attacked by a Hawk

13 11 Loading

SH 110_#1 BIG

Robo Raven is a truly clever robot flier—it can dive, spiral, even back flip. Although up close, Robo Raven’s reflective body doesn’t look very hawk-like, its wing motion and silhouette are realistic enough to fool a hawk into attacking it.  (Not unlike a Liquid Robotics Wave Glider that was “investigated” by a shark in the Pacific Ocean.) See below for a little robot/bird diplomacy.

What enables Robo Raven’s impressive aerobatics? Independently flapping wings. It took the team eight years and a number of failed prototypes to arrive at this stage. Wing independence requires a heavier microcontroller and battery. To trim the robot’s total weight, the team turned to modern fabrication techniques to 3D print and laser cut light polymer parts. As for those tricky moves, with their independently flapping wings the team can now program and run any wing motion they like.

Researchers say bird and insect-inspired flying robots may fill a particular niche in the drone market. Though they may not have the payload capacity of fixed wing craft or quadcopters, they can be more efficient fliers. Further, mimicking bird-like behavior, these robots can vary wing speed, flap wings independently, even change wing shape mid-flight. These characteristics make them more versatile fliers, able to stop and start quickly, fly forward and backward, hover, perch, and generally, better adapt to changing aerodynamic properties of the air.

Further, while a drone is fairly obvious once spotted, the bird-like flying robots may be quieter and lower profile (for better or worse). These new bots are right out of Da Vinci’s notebooks. Only now, five centuries later, has the technology caught up to the idea. Advances in miniature computing, lightweight structural materials, and more efficient, lighter batteries are finally enabling machines to fly like birds.

Discussion — 11 Responses

  • Robotics May 14, 2013 on 10:35 am

    this is another example of robot that can imitate the nature in every detail

  • palmytomo May 14, 2013 on 4:36 pm

    Congratulations – wonderful – especially because presumably it means we soon will ourselves be able to fly like a bird if we use an exoskeleton based on this technology. In my life I have many times dreamed of flying. I suppose that even I, now at age 64, may in my lifetime enjoy that thrill. Bruce Thomson in New Zealand.

  • B.j. Ó Murchadha May 15, 2013 on 10:54 pm

    I imagine a near future where both biological and robotic creatures live freely, autonomously, and collectively (maybe even competitively, natural selection style?). Imagine swimming through the ocean depths and witnessing both biological and artificial life swimming about? Or wandering throughout forests and seeing artificial snakes, worms, etc. going about their day?

  • Luke Roberts October 14, 2013 on 9:44 am

    Check out the newest version: Robo Raven III with solar cell wings!! See link in description. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1_mPe8Y0V4