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Inspired by the herring gull: like its natural role model, the SmartBird flies solely by using its flapping wings. The ultralight ornithopter offers excellent aerodynamics and – unlike comparable flying models – can take off, fly and land on its own without any additional propulsion.
Made of carbon fibre, glass fibre and polyurethane foam, the SmartBird is extremely lightweight and offers maximum agility. With a length of 1.07 metres and a span of 1.96 metres, it weighs only around 450 grams. This consistent lightweight construction and the intelligent on-board electronics are key to enabling the unique flight characteristics of the SmartBird.
The SmartBird achieves an aerodynamic efficiency of over 80 per cent with its special wing profile and the targeted twisting of its beating wings. The design enables the wings to not only beat up and down, but also twist in a targeted manner. This is achieved by an active joint torsion drive, which provides both lift and propulsion. The integration of these functions has unlocked the key to bird flight for technology.
During the flight, software continuously collects data such as wing position, wing torsion and battery status and checks it in real time. This makes it possible to adjust and optimise the control parameters to new situations within fractions of a second. The continuous diagnosis guarantees stable flight and so ensures that the artificial bird operates safely and reliably.
The SmartBird provides important findings for our core business in automation technology – especially in the field of aerodynamics. This knowledge can help to develop new components that require little installation space, are flow-optimised and thus become more efficient in terms of resources and energy. The functional integration of coupled drives provides us with information for the design and optimisation of hybrid drive technologies. Possible applications range from lifting vane generators for generating energy from water to new valve actuators in process automation.