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Drones are set to form a multi-billion dollar industry in the following years, with their rising potential for a wide range of uses in medical assistance, home deliveries, and agriculture. Due to that, scientists are getting inspiration from nature to build better drones by creating robotic birds.

Electrical engineer professor Anibal Ollero of the University of Seville in Spain said that the robotic drones he is working on can double the flying time that standard drones have, which is 20 to 30 minutes.

The European Union-funded GRIFFIN program he leads seeks to create prototypes of the robotic birds that can minimize energy in flight and perch on curved surfaces, and carry out tasks with its limbs and artificial beaks.

 Robotic Birds Inspire New Ways of Building Better Drones That Could Assist in Medical Emergencies
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Bird silhouette flying in the sky

Robotic Birds As Drones

The main objective of the robotic birds' project is to create drones that are capable of doing tasks of typical drones and a lot more, Drone DJ reported.

Its flapping wings are designed to conserve battery life by gliding and other reactions with wind currents. A simulation of the aircraft showed that it could perch on curved objects or grasps vertical poles using its talons.

Furthermore, safe components installed in the bird's flapping wings and other parts will allow for direct contact and interaction with humans, unlike the typical spinning rotors of a drone.

According to the report, the absence of rotors in the robotic birds reduces the noise they make while flying and allows for doing other tasks, like landing on injured humans, taking biometrics, or affix masks to people stuck in dangerous hazmat scenarios.

ALSO READ: On Making Flapping Drones: Understanding How Butterflies Fly Will Be Helpful


Robotic Birds Taking Over the Skies in 2030

The completion of the robotic birds has still a long way to go. Ollero said that the prototype robotic birds have been successful with the flapping-wing indoor and outdoor flight testing and pulled off successful landings on surfaces that are 7 to 10 inches wide.

The next major challenge they need to overcome is using onboard machine learning and other AI technology to allow for an automatic response to changing external factors, such as the wind current or uneven surfaces.

"There is a lot of work to do on the integration of new technologies related to material science, mechanics, aerodynamics, and artificial intelligence in our robotic birds," Ollero told the EU's research and innovation magazine Horizons.

Despite that, they hope for the ornithopters to be taking over the skies in 2030, performing practical tasks and assisting emergency missions.

Miniaturization of all kinds of things helps in the development of all tech components. This will also help in building the real bird anatomy of the robotic birds using the shape-memory alloys.

Ollero and his colleagues continue to make robotic birds that resemble an actual bird, which takes a lot of time watching and analyzing all sorts of feathered critters.

 RELATED ARTICLE: Engineers Develop Nature-Inspired Drones with Four Wings That Flap

Check out more news and information on Drones in Science Times.