Flapping-Wing Robotic Bird Successfully Performs Aerobatic Maneuvers

University of Maryland professors S. K. Gupta and Hugh Bruck have created a robotic bird named Robo Raven, whose wings flap completely independently of each other and can be programmed to perform any desired motion - enabling it to perform aerobatic maneuvers. This is the first time a robotic bird with these capabilities has been built and successfully flown. Gupta and Bruck first successfully demonstrated a flapping-wing bird in 2007. This robot used one motor to flap both wings together in simple motions. By 2010 the design had evolved over four successive models, but the limitation of simultaneous wing flapping restricted how well it could fly. Their new Robo Raven "uses two programmable motors that can be synchronized electronically to coordinate motion between the wings," says Gupta. Because the two actuators required a large battery and on-board micro controller that made Robo Raven too heavy to fly, the team also used 3D printing and laser-cutting to create lightweight polymer parts.