I think biomimicry for a bird is clearly more challenging than, say, land or water-based animals. Why? Because in addition to making it fly like a bird and perhaps look like one with feathers and all to blend in with the real birds, it has to land like one too. Well, you know what? Landing like a bird is precisely what the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology aka ETH Zurich has recently successfully demonstrated with its Ornithopter, a robotic bird.
However, it is worth noting that the successful perches only solidified the methodology and NOT the technology it used to do so. In other words, the scientists managed to align all the factors, including speed, timing, impact force, and more, that a bird requires to perch successfully which they achieved through accurate localization data from a motion capture system which would not be suitable in unpredictable environments like a real tree. But make no mistake. It is an immense achievement nonetheless.
For the catching mechanism, the bot-bird uses a spring-loaded claw triggered within milliseconds (25 ms, to be precise) through optical camera assessments during the final approach. Clearly, we may have oversimplified the development since we are not roboticists.
You may learn more from an article posted on PopSci and New Scientist. There is further reading on this development in a paper published by the ETH Zurich team on nature communications if anyone’s interested.
Image: ETH Zurich via PopSci.
via Popular Science.