Sure, we’ve created robotic birds. But we’ve never created robotic birds that can actually flap their wings independently of each other.
Apparently, what sounds so incredibly simple has actually been out of reach, until now. The problem, obviously, isn’t the simple mechanics of having the wings flap independently of each other. It’s having the thing fly while they’re flapping independently of each other. The design process is a sloth-like crawl, because every time a bird doesn’t work, it crashes to the ground. And is generally destroyed in the process.
But two University of Maryland professors have finally done it, creating what they’ve affectionately dubbed the “Robo Raven.” And it only took them about a decade.
Having the wings operate independently helps the robot fly in various weather conditions. For example, before the breakthrough, the robots could only fly in winds up to 10 mph. Think of it like this: the robot operates more like an actual bird, which can adjust each of its wings independently to stay afloat.
“Our new robot, Robo Raven, is based on a fundamentally new design concept," said S.K. Gupta, one of the scientists. "It uses two programmable motors that can be synchronized electronically to coordinate motion between the wings." But don’t take our word for it. Watch it flap about below.