The bird robot that flies like a herring gull
TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a set of conferences whose mission is to disseminate "ideas worth spreading." Initiated by Richard Saul Wurman and Harry Marks, these annual meetings have been held since 1990, Monterey, California, and more recently twice a year in other cities around the world under the name TED Global.
It‘s during the TEDGlobal 2011, that Markus Fischer and team Festo has introduced a revolution in the world of flying robots.!

It’s one of the oldest dreams of mankind to fly like a bird.
Many, from Leonardo da Vinci to contemporary research teams, tried to crack the "code" for the flight of birds, unsuccessfully.

Indeed, many robots can fly, but none can fly like a real bird. But this was before ... the Smartbird!

This large lightweight robot flies by flapping its wings. Until in 2011, Festo, a German technology company, develop and show a flight model of an artificial bird that's capable of taking off and rising in the air alone. (see video below)
SmartBird is inspired by the herring gull. Seeing it fly leaves no doubt: it's a perfect technical imitation of the natural model, just bigger with its wingspan almost two meters, while its carbon-fiber structure of one meter and six, weighs only 450 grams.
SmartBird Animation - flight bird deciphered (english)
Aerodynamic lightweight design

SmartBird is an ultralight but powerful flight model with excellent aerodynamic qualities and extreme agility. With SmartBird, Festo has succeeded in deciphering the flight of birds – one of the oldest dreams of humankind.
The SmartBird can start, fly and land autonomously – with no additional drive mechanism. Its wings not only beat up and down, but also twist at specific angles.
Festo has thus succeeded for the first time in creating an energy-efficient technical adaptation of this model from nature.

New approaches in automation

The functional integration of coupled drive units yields significant ideas and insights that Festo can transfer to the development and optimisation of hybrid drive technology.

The minimal use of materials and the extremely lightweight construction pave the way for efficiency in resource and energy consumption.

Festo, a privately owned German industrial control and Automation Company based in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany, is an engineering-driven company that sells pneumatic and electric transducers primarily to the automation industry.

Festo puts its expertise in the field of fluid dynamics to use in the development of the latest generations of cylinders and valves.
By analysing SmartBird's flow characteristics during the course of its development, Festo has acquired additional knowledge for the optimisation of its product solutions and has learned to design even more efficiently.
Smartbird by Festo :