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Flying Robot Bird Unveiled

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the getting-the-robot-worm dept.

Robotics 152

mikejuk writes "Festo, well known for their biologically inspired robots, have a new creation called SmartBird. It is amazing to watch and all the more amazing when you realize that it flaps its wings and all of the control is via a torsion drive which twists the wings during each flap. The whole thing depends on the constant intervention of the software to keep it under control."

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Possible military use: Instead of missile strike.. (3, Funny)

JaydenT (2012002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635248)

...targeted bird droppings.

Re:Possible military use: Instead of missile strik (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635256)

Isn't that the same thing?

Re:Possible military use: Instead of missile strik (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635296)

No, it's just a kinetic poop intervention.

Re:Possible military use: Instead of missile strik (1)

WonderingAround (2007742) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635400)

but who will use it first?

Angry birds (1)

Elary (1487257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636050)

Rovio saw it coming...

Re:Angry birds (1)

Muntyhoven (1994782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636842)

The avian Skynet!

Re:Angry birds (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637796)

Duh. One of the most obvious things about Angry Birds is they don't have wings. Or feet.

What they do have is a catapult, high explosives and pathological hatred of pigs. So nothing at all like these birds.

Constant intervention of the software ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635278)

The whole thing depends on the constant intervention of the software to keep it under control

That seems to be a fairly well understood problem. Hasn't pretty much every fighter aircraft from the 1970's F16 onward required such software intervention? Inherent flight instability being leveraged for greater performance?

Re:Constant intervention of the software ... (4, Funny)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635642)

And also, real bird also depend on constant intervention of the software, i.e brain. Usually when birds lose their heads, they stop flying. Or so I've heard.

Re:Constant intervention of the software ... (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635728)

This calls for immediate discussion!

Re:Constant intervention of the software ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635812)

I have heard about cases of roosters flying over the rooftops after being decapitated, so no - apparently it might in certain cases even help flying.

Re:Constant intervention of the software ... (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636932)

There's a very complex network of interconnects in the spinal cord of vertebrates that does perform low level processing. It's entirely possible that the interconnects that enable to rooster to keep flying are in the spinal cord - although not for long, due to blood loss and a lack of centralized guidance. (eyes and decision making and so forth)

Re:Constant intervention of the software ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635818)

I believe Ozzie Osborne proved that...

Birds have not evolved to handle unstable ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636060)

And also, real bird also depend on constant intervention of the software, i.e brain.

Birds have not evolved to handle inherently aerodynamically unstable systems. The demands on their brains are probably closer to the human pilot flying older inherently stable designs than more modern designs that can't fly without thousands of corrections per second on multiple control surfaces controlled by computers.

Re:Birds have not evolved to handle unstable ... (2)

Anynomous Coward (841063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636388)

I don't think so. Most of the 'stabilization hard- and software' of the birds is probably built-in into the autonomous neurological network, just like a human is able to walk/run/jump upright - which is inherently unstable - without having to consciuously micromanage all muscles that are involved.

One shades into the other (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636498)

In fact, our brains do more than that. We can consciously learn to do things, then pass to a stage of being aware of what we are doing, then do something without conscious thought. Sometimes I drive to work with hardly a conscious thought about the process, sometimes in hazardous conditions (ice, school moms) I'm conscious of what I'm doing all the time. Anyone who has watched young birds learning to fly knows that they go through this process. I've watched a young jackdaw practice, over and over, flying from one branch to another till it could do it and hit the second branch with hardly a wing flap. That implies goal-directed learning.

As for "inherent stability" - a bird is far more unstable in flight than the most exotic aircraft. The Festo design doesn't flap its wings very far. Many birds can flap their wings so that the tips meet underneath them. Watch a fair sized slow flying bird like a heron, and the wing geometry change during a single flap is very large.

Re:Birds have not evolved to handle unstable ... (0)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636906)

Euhm ... have you ever seen a human walk right after birth ?

Humans *learn* to walk. In about 2 years.

Birds *lean* to fly. In a few seconds. Their mother carries them to about 100 meters height, and drops them (actual method varies). The first landing generally isn't the softest one ...

(Well that's not actually true ... "most" birds learn to fly, at best)

Re:Birds have not evolved to handle unstable ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35636402)

A human standing upright isn't an inherently stable design. Even less so when he walks or run.

What was your point again?

Re:Birds have not evolved to handle unstable ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35636878)

I would bet that a bird's brain has (subconscious) control circuitry for the unstable parts, and an overall (conscious) controller that directs the subconscious parts, much like the human brain and walking. Don't try to oversimplify flight - this is a very cool demo.

Re:Birds have not evolved to handle unstable ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637732)

OK Bees then. Smaller brain and much more unstable flight design.

Just in the same way..... (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636562)

in which your body needs constant corrections by your brain so that you dont fall down.

Re:Constant intervention of the software ... (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636784)

Yes, but any model plane that size doesn't require intervention from software to keep it under control.

Re:Constant intervention of the software ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637728)

It does. It's called the human operator.

Forget Harrier Jump Jets (1)

jlb.think (1719718) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635300)

Obviously the bird in the video isn't to the point of being to perform in the same way as our Harriers, but we are definitely seeing the future of military aircrafts.  Our fighter jets out perform nature in many ways, but one only has to go outside for a few minutes to see bird after bird perform in ways that makes every current aircraft pale in comparison.  This is a demonstration that gets the ball rolling.

F-15 Screamin' Eagle, pahh, meet  the F-420 Literally Screamin' Eagle.

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635404)

Huh? Birds are a lot smaller, so scaling is on their side. Also, they are built of flight, unlike human pilots. And I wouldn't like to see a bird get *close* to Mach 1.

UAV will be much more impressive. But the Air Force doesn't like them, as it makes pilots obsolete.

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635964)

UAV's don't make pilots obsolete, it just makes the job a lot less cool.
Sitting safely behind a computer on the ground with a joystick in their hand.
As I understand it, current UAV's still require trained pilots for any practical scenario.

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35636502)

Less cool?? Obviously you have never built a UAV or flown one using a set of video goggles. You are correct however, you still need to be able to fly and understand conditions to which you can subject a UAV or drone that would cause any autopilot to be overwhelmed and ultimately crash.

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636526)

Sitting safely behind a computer on the ground with a joystick in their hand.

I have a lot of experience with this, uh.. flight model. Sign me up!

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637630)

I remember reading about a software pilot using neural networks that could outperform any human fighter pilot in simulations (not least because it could keep working fine at 8Gs or more). The military didn't want to use it because the down side of a neural net is that the programmer doesn't really understand how it works. The advantage of autonomous drones is pretty obvious - an enemy can't disable them with an RF jammer. The down side is that you need to be completely sure that the software is correct, or you'll end up with someone working out how to convince it to strafe your own bases.

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635482)

Why waste trillions on manufacturing more jets? America should develop covert military technology to deploy miniature rotary cannons on live eagles, tiny guided missiles on crows, and small cluster bombs on falcons. Geese can be our elite AWACS units; owls can be equipped with stealth reconnaissance and targeting equipment.

The bird nations have assured me that they will not turn on the friendly humans after our enemies cease to exist.

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636534)

I vote for little fat birds and catapults. Put all those millions of hours of Angry Birds practice to good use.

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635626)

Manned aircraft for war are on their way out.

Re:Forget Harrier Jump Jets (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635636)

Really?

I've never seen a bird break the sound barrier.

Fighters already exceed the capability of the pilot in terms of maneveuring - it doesn't matter if you make the planes even better the pilot will still black out/die anyway.

Cool tech for uncool applications (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636544)

This is not technology that it suited for manned military flight... too slow. Much too slow.

It's more likely to be used for "security" purposes, in conflict areas and in our own urban environments. Basically, while it is easier to keep an eye on some Taliban guys, it also became easier for the cops to spy on us.

And that's what I really hate about technology. It is always available for the wrong purposes too. It just keeps getting easier and easier to covertly keep an eye on large groups of people... and it becomes easier and easier to treat all civilians as suspects, and constantly prove their innocence by covert surveillance. That is not how we're supposed to be treated by our elected governments.

Ornithopters are so cool... (1)

SgtXaos (157101) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635308)

I've been disappointed in all the "Dune" movies that they haven't managed to properly portray the Ornithopters (as in the books).

Of course, I also hate that the MI in "Starship Troopers" didn't get the powered armor!

To get back on topic, this robo-bird is pretty amazing. There have been a bunch of mini-drones that can be used to spy on an enemy, but they all *look* like drones. These would not raise an eyebrow...

Re:Ornithopters are so cool... (1)

CaseCrash (1120869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635368)

this robo-bird is pretty amazing. There have been a bunch of mini-drones that can be used to spy on an enemy, but they all *look* like drones. These would not raise an eyebrow...

OMG, the RC ornithopter my nephew got last Christmas made me so jealous and inspired. Things I thought were impossible (experts told me they were impractical and too difficult) seem to be happening. We don't have flying cars (that are affordable) but I'll take remote controlled birds and dragonflies as a decent substitute.

Re:Ornithopters are so cool... (1)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635376)

It all depends on battery life. Predator drones can fly very high and far away from enemy fire for 14 to 24 hours. They can cover very large distances. This is a major advantage in harsh territory such as Afghanistan. This bird might seem innocent, but I really wonder how many minutes (I doubt hours) it can fly considering its size and lightweight requirements which must clearly limiting the battery size (usually the heaviest electronic component). The website doesn't say.
(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predator_drone [wikipedia.org] )

Re:Ornithopters are so cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35636220)

Yeah, I was trying to figure out the battery life. The only specs I could find were that the bird uses a two cell lithium polymer accumulators rated at 7.4V and 450mA (I assume they actually mean mAh). whit a little dojiggery on the back of an envelope and I get around 17 minutes if everything runs perfectly. [mAh / (W/V)]*(60m/h) I'm no electronics expert, so feel free to berate me if this is stupid.

The power requirement actually matches pretty closely to that of a laughing gull (http://zoology.science.oregonstate.edu/~warrickd/dialetal97.pdf [oregonstate.edu] the chart is on pg 3) which runs at about 55-60 W/Kg. The mecha-bird stops by at 51, but the velocities these are measured at may be different.

What I think is pretty cool is that they're running it on a TI chip with 50MHz and 64kB flash. At mouser the evaluation kit (includes cables and driver) runs for $50. Talk about doing a lot with a little.

Re:Ornithopters are so cool... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636554)

A few lightweight solar panels could do the business. It could just land every so often and mingle with other birds while recharging :P

Re:Ornithopters are so cool... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637374)

Wasn't there some development where a machine can be powered by "eating" bugs? [slashdot.org] If that can be made lightweight enough, it might be an applicable power source. After all, real birds manage to get enough power this way.

What? No Feathers? (5, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635508)

Why do no ornithopters employ feather analogs? They all have solid wings. Flight feathers form a check valve, letting air through the wing on the upstroke, and capturing it on the downstroke. This arrangement allows the bird to put a lot less energy into the upstroke (and thus not lose as much altitude). With a solid wing, you wind up pushing the craft down on the upstroke almost as much as you lift it on the downstroke.

Re:What? No Feathers? (2)

GonzoPhysicist (1231558) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636346)

I'm not saying you're wrong,but the point of flapping is thrust not lift.

Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (5, Insightful)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635310)

Well beyond humanoids.

It's so beautiful, interesting, and yet creepy in a way.

Humanity's advances in certain areas (like robotics) are amazing. The sad part is that we are way ahead in certain areas, but way behind in other three key areas:

a) Energy:

We still have to crack the energy issue. We lack both reliable ways to gather energy, and reliable ways to store it.

b) AI

We are still in diapers in weak AI, and not even started in strong AI.

c) Economy

We are still based on the stupid principle of scarcity. Until we realize that we can produce as much as we need of just about anything, and that we are limiting ourselves by creating artificial scarcity to keep alive a system that's been dead for a long time, we won't make that breakthrough into what we thought the year 2000 was going to be.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635348)

C and A is essentially the same problem, really.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (-1, Troll)

Theotherguy_1 (1971460) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635358)

Agreed on a) and b) but not on c). That sounds like the ridiculous rhetoric of the Venus Project or Marshall Brain (also known as Marxism). You're not one of those wackos, are you? I should hope not.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (0)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635520)

While not perfect, the principle of scaricity provides the impitus to prospective entrepreneurial to seek more of it. The idea being there's a much larger profit margin to be taken advantage of. When others jump in on the action, competition and supply increases, and costs come down. Basically, simple laws of supply and demand. The very foundation of a functioning economy. The government also has the power to keep it well maintained, or they themselves become the monkeywrench in the works.

So what happens when something gets too expensive and remain that way? Three things.

1. People purchase less of it.
2. People find and alternative to suit their wants and needs.
3. Rationing. Last resort for critical supplies.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637422)

That is bullshit. Have you ever been employed as a boss in this economy? I tell you how it works: not the one with the best solution, best product or hard work wins, but the one with the better contacts. This is no "market economy" but socially driven profiteering. The aim is private profit: not public innovation or better products. In this world "good enough" is sexy.

Not supply and demand are the foundations of economy, but people are. It is not "controlled" but "directed" by the government. The government has it's laws written by the ministerial employees who are mostly paid by lobbyist groups and who don't change whomever is elected to parliament. Public executives then interpret the law and write an executive order that replaces the law in practice for all civil services. The government gives the high-level "strategy", but it doesn't carry it out. This is how democracy works.

So how does economy work: it's starts out as you describe - but people are people. They eventually find out that competition prevents profit and as they know each well, they eventually decide not to compete.
So it "evolves" into settled social structures. Think of the market as a giant casino where the big pot is won by being friends with the cashier. So you get people who bet on demand and others who bet on supply. To increase your chances of winning you have to form alliances to keep competition out of your group and thus out of the market. So you either buy shares of over peoples businesses, be friends with the boss or (if you can't do either thing) influence the market (shop keepers or resellers) to keep any unwanted competitor from entering your market, so that the demand for other products than you and your friends sell is never created. On top you got bankers who bet that so and so many people will bet on the same thing - of course not using their own money but yours.

The truth of this could be easily witnessed in Eastern Germany after the reunification. When the whole country was privatized. Western banks bought eastern banks. In one example: worth ~150 billion for 50 million. (Being friends with the cashier always pays.)
The existing businesses kept better products out of stores by threatening shop keepers not to sell anything no approved by their group. They bought better companies, took their profits out and closed them down to prevent competition. Here you could witness directly how it works.

This system of "socially driven profiteering" is systematically preventing innovation. Example: in 1991 Foron developed the first CFC-free refrigerator. Competitors wrote to shop keepers demanding them to not sell the product as Foron wasn't part of their clique - thus not on their social radar. It worked: Foron was driven out of the market and forced to focus on niche products. Just one example of so many.

So to conclude this: we do not have a market economy anywhere on this planet. Human is a social animal and will always be. That's why there is no way to make "market economy" work, even though it sounded good on paper.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635554)

"stupid principle of scarcity" - and who are you going to enslave to do the work?

Until everybody gets an army of robots to build shit for them, who would be building shit for you for free and why?

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (2)

ghostdoc (1235612) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635756)

I'm with Iain M Banks on this one. (to paraphrase:) Robots provide the how, humans provide the why.

We're not far off having distributed manufacturing able to make shit for us for very low cost (almost free). But there's no way our current economic model can survive that. Given the amount of hassle we're dealing with because we can make copies of songs for free, what are we going to have to cope with when we can make copies of cars for free?

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635840)

Yes, once you get your robot that can build another robot, and then they build armies of robots, and every human has his robot armies, it's all good and stuff, now tell me, what are they going to use for raw materials, space (land) and energy? How are you going to share that among all humans? Time share? Ha ha.

The Dark Lord Schaffer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637008)

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (0)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635652)

You contradict yourself with A and C. The "energy issue" can't still need "cracking" if we can produce as much as we need of it.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635710)

Certain things are by their nature difficult and I don't think it's reasonable to expect these things to be solvable.

a) My expectation is that if there were any really good ways of gathering and storing energy, then lower life-forms would be able to exploit these without having to go through the trouble of evolving into higher lifeforms and then figuring it out. You also have the inherent issue that forms of energy which store well are the most difficult to collect.

b) Weak AI is hard because maintaining large collections of information, without them gathering weeds of misinformation, is hard. Strong AI is harder because of the first problem, and I suspect that by the time you put together a system complex enough to match human intelligence, it'll be every bit as unreliable as a human being.

c) I don't really understand this one. If you think of all the things you need to make and distribute any one thing, you always run out of something before you can scale it up to distributing it to everyone.

What we really need is sustainable infrastructure, everywhere in the world. I don't think that's a problem we're just going to crack open all at once. It's going to be something that we'll struggle towards for a long time, and maybe, just maybe, eventually break that barrier.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

internettoughguy (1478741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635834)

My expectation is that if there were any really good ways of gathering and storing energy, then lower life-forms would be able to exploit these without having to go through the trouble of evolving into higher lifeforms and then figuring it out.

Why do you expect that? We have designed many systems that are in some specific ways better than those systems found in nature. We can go faster, go further, see more, see smaller things, process numbers faster, store more numbers, and do heaps of other things better than natural systems can.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635932)

regarding (a): fat is a good way of storing energy. I'm not sure if I understood my highschool chemistry teacher right, but he said storing energy in fat is better than current rechargeable battery technology (note that this was around ten years ago, so it may not be true now).

Your teacher was right (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636518)

The energy density of fat is close to that of Diesel fuel. Tank weight for battery weight, a Diesel car has more than 6 times the range of a battery powered car. (Nissan Leaf 100 miles, equivalent Nissan European Diesel approx. 600 miles.)

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

Stooshie (993666) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637030)

" ... My expectation is that if there were any really good ways of gathering and storing energy, then lower life-forms would be able to exploit these without having to go through the trouble of evolving into higher lifeforms and then figuring it out ... " The lower life forms are some of the most successful lifeforms on earth. They have little problem with energy.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (4, Insightful)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636002)

Humanity's advances in certain areas (like robotics) are amazing. The sad part is that we are way ahead in certain areas, but way behind in other three key areas:

This is true, or not--it really is a matter of personal perspective. I myself think we are making fairly equitable process in terms of the limited resources we are splitting between all of our priorities:

We are still in diapers in weak AI, and not even started in strong AI.

Might as well be saying this in the year 1850 in respect to clockwork men. The human brain is not software so much as it is hardware, and modern transistor chips do not resemble it very well. I think our present level of AI is fairly suited to the sort of computers we are manufacturing. Get quantum computers (in which we are make quite excellent progress) up to where large chips are viable, and I think the code development of AI will be a few orders of magnitude more viable as well.

We still have to crack the energy issue. We lack both reliable ways to gather energy, and reliable ways to store it.

We can generate massive (nuclear) and store massive (dam) amounts of energy. Scaling it down becomes more troublesome. But the real issue is that it's easier to dream up ways to use energy than to produce it, due to troublesome and altogether uncircumventable laws of thermodynamics, which in one sense will always make us seem like we're lagging. Energy "does stuff," and we'll almost always want to "do as much stuff" as we can, which can always be translated into some kind of gain. Getting back to the AI issue: there are fundamental constraints on the the amount of computation that can be done per joule of energy expended. And will we ever be happy with the amount of computing we do? I don't think so. So, in that respect alone, we already have some desire for infinite energy, to say nothing of whatever finite supply we have at a given time.

We are still based on the stupid principle of scarcity. Until we realize that we can produce as much as we need of just about anything, and that we are limiting ourselves by creating artificial scarcity to keep alive a system that's been dead for a long time, we won't make that breakthrough into what we thought the year 2000 was going to be.

Humanity always produces as much as it needs. If not, people die and the equilibrium is re-established. It comes to producing as much as we want, and that, as given in one example, is pretty much limitless. Scarcity of resources in that respect is inevitable and the distribution of those resources is fairly well addressed by capitalism. I doubt there will be a better way to distribute them until our super-AI comes online to figure it all out for us. Until then, humans are provably terrible at guessing where resources should go by any means other than rational self-interest.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636542)

Humanity always produces as much as it needs. If not, people die and the equilibrium is re-established. It comes to producing as much as we want, and that, as given in one example, is pretty much limitless. Scarcity of resources in that respect is inevitable and the distribution of those resources is fairly well addressed by capitalism. I doubt there will be a better way to distribute them until our super-AI comes online to figure it all out for us. Until then, humans are provably terrible at guessing where resources should go by any means other than rational self-interest.

Well, if you did not know, people do die of hunger every day, and many of them. So no, we don't produce as much as we need ;-)
I'm pretty sure you're however aware that money and power are more important than proper resource distribution especially in the capitalist scheme - therefore it can't be our best effort as humans by a long shot. (be it food, electronics, energy, or what-not)

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637080)

Humanity always produces as much as it needs. If not, people die and the equilibrium is re-established.

This is patently false. We are currently producing much more than we need, to the detriment of all.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

WSOGMM (1460481) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636106)

Well beyond humanoids.

It's so beautiful, interesting, and yet creepy in a way.

Humanity's advances in certain areas (like robotics) are amazing.

Not to mention the trendy music!

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (0)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636194)

"We are still in diapers in weak AI, and not even started in strong AI."

What do you mean "started"? Weak AI is the path to strong AI, it's not binary, it's a spectrum and at some point weak AI research will develop enough for the fruits of it to cross the boundaries into strong AI. Weak AI IS a start towards strong AI, strong AI isn't something we can just jump into blind.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35636506)

It's not just AI that's way behind... It's the entire software fiasco. Think about it: we're still in a pathetic world of viruses, trojans, SQL-injections, etc. The software world is decades behind the hardware world.

I don't know if, nor when, we'll see AI. But I can tell you that it won't happen on a machine running Windows.

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637610)

The genetic software world which runs our bodies still can get viruses after billions of years. And that despite us having a quite sophisticated AV system in our bodies.

And even our mental software is not always immune against malware. Proof: 9/11.
Or at a lower scale: Every popular myth out there.

Indeed, I would not be surprised if genetic viruses could manipulate our mental system in order to spread (e.g. if AIDS turned out to make infected people want more sex).

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636944)

I didn't find it uncanny at all myself.

This 'Air Jelly' also very cool: Air Jelly [youtube.com]

Re:Wow, just wow. The uncanny valley extends .... (1)

MaDeR (826021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637344)

"We are still based on the stupid principle of scarcity."
I see reality is optional for you. Don't worry, there a LOT of folks like you on Internet.

Hint, hint: that you do not like some concept does not mean it does not exist.

Wow (3, Insightful)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635346)

This is quite simply amazing. And even though it's not perfect, can you imagine the implications of this? Everything from weaponization to ornithology. Imagine being able to observe a flock of birds on a migratory route as part of the flock! It's really quite stunning.

Re:Wow (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635396)

This is quite simply amazing. And even though it's not perfect, can you imagine the implications of this? Everything from weaponization to ornithology. Imagine being able to observe a flock of birds on a migratory route as part of the flock! It's really quite stunning.

Implications of this? Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Re:Wow (1)

DarthJohn (1160097) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635456)

Imagine being able to observe a flock of birds on a migratory route as part of the flock!

That reminded me of the guy with an ultra-light airplane dressed up to sorta look a bit like a goose. I can't remember if he was working with geese that for some reason or other didn't know what their migration route should be or if he was just studying an existing flock.

Re:Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635606)

Wasn't that made into a crappy Disney movie? oh, it was: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116329 (actually, it wasn't. It was Columbia pictures, a subsidiary of Sony. But we hate then the same, so they're interchangeable, right?)

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637078)

That reminded me of the guy with an ultra-light airplane dressed up to sorta look a bit like a goose. I can't remember if he was working with geese that for some reason or other didn't know what their migration route should be or if he was just studying an existing flock.

IIRC they were teaching the migration route to captive bred/rescued geese before release.

that is beautiful (2)

j_l_larson (1233762) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635424)

it fills me with joy. I wonder if other birds will attack it.

Re:that is beautiful (1)

andrewme (1562981) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635686)

Imagine the expensive horror of a predatory hawk soaring away with it! Maybe it should have an auto-destruct mechanism to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands... erm, talons.

Re:that is beautiful (1)

Anynomous Coward (841063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636454)

Hmm, its 2m wingspan will discourage the hawks. This weekend I was soaring my 1.5m eHawk, circling amidst a flock of 5 buzzards (larger than hawks) which seemed to appreciated the company !

Re:that is beautiful (1)

ghostdoc (1235612) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635766)

agree, it is beautiful. I consider myself lucky to be alive at a time when we're making such things as this :)

Big deal. (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635426)

It came with my car as a standard feature. Along with automatic jacks, belt tires, cutter blades, deflectors.

Knock Knock, Neo (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635438)

"see those birds? at some point, a program was written to govern those." - The Oracle

cool! (1)

cranil (1983560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635494)

if it wasn't for the title, it would have taken some time for me to figure out that it was an actual bird :D

Re:cool! (1)

cranil (1983560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636030)

damn, I meant: "if it wasn't for the title, it would have taken some time for me to figure out that it was *not* an actual bird :D" PS: does slashdot have a problem if I reply to my comment immediately? It complained about me not having access to the "resource"

But is it heavier than air? (1)

Gopal.V (532678) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635566)

Somehow I get the weird feeling that this is a helium filled lighter than air or at least neutral buoyancy device with wings.

On the other hand, in the video it's uncannily like a bird in its flght movements and extremely agile on turns. I'm guessing this is an experiment to work out the mechanics of creating a flapping wing rather than on figuring out how to deliver lifting power off it.

Re:But is it heavier than air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35636092)

Article says 500 grams. Sounds heavier than air to me.

It's just viral marketing for a remake (2)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635582)

I'm surprised they let Uwe Boll rob Hitchcock's grave.

Haven't you heard? (4, Informative)

degeneratemonkey (1405019) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635594)

About the word? Ba-ba-ba-... *ahem*... I, for one, welcome our new cybornithological overlords.

Torsion control (1)

jlowery (47102) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635640)

As stated in the animation: 'pecisely twisted'. Makes me wonder.

Full speed playback... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635676)

Well it's very pretty. Maybe it's just me, but it also seems to me that the whole video is being played back in slowmo - like 60fps at 30. Or similar. Is there any footage of this robot that hasn't been slowed down? Sure it wouldn't be quite so sexy, nor perhaps as illustrative of it's movement. But it would give a better impression of what it actually looks like in flight.

Re:Full speed playback... (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635786)

it's realtime. it says in the article that the wingspan is around 2 meters. and the whole thing weighs around 500 grams. so it's only natural that it will move slow (think sea gulls, as opposed to the smaller doves). at some point in the video you can see people in a corner walking behind it, that's where I got my sense of scale initially.

Think albatrosses, storks and herons (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636536)

When I was teaching physics, years ago, I used to take classes to a cliff where fulmars (a small albatross) used to fly. They would fly along the cliff edge into a side wind so slowly that you could stand there and watch them maybe three metres away, and examine the wing beat very closely. It's astonishing how slowly the wings seem to move. (I made some super-8 film of them, but the classroom experience didn't generate anything like the interest of the real-world experience.)

Interesting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35635762)

Interesting...
According to Gallop Polls: 1 in 12 Americans are unaware that the Bird is the Word. I, for one, dream of an America where everybody knows that the Bird is the Word.

yum (1, Funny)

gasmower (451721) | more than 3 years ago | (#35635772)

tastes like chicken

Flying birds? That's innovation? (0)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636086)

These lazy-ass engineers need to put some flapping wings on a car. So what the hell is a bird supposed to do besides flying and pooping on car windshields?

OK, I guess that some birds don't fly, like ostriches, dodo birds, and moas. But dodos and moas are extinct, which demonstrates the advantage of being able to fly. Oh, turkeys can't fly either, but they taste good on the dinner table during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I hope I will live to see the day when Slashdot announces that someone has invented a real flying car. But then again, when I look at how most folks drive . . . putting them in something that flies is a recipe for disaster . . .

Re:Flying birds? That's innovation? (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637444)

Oh, turkeys can't fly either...

Wild turkey can and do fly. They can't land worth a darn, though. I was turkey hunting once when one came in for a landing nearby - it was as if God had let slip a feathered bowling ball into the woods. That bird must've crashed through 50 feet of small trees and underbrush before rolling to a stop.

Elegant Engineering ! (1)

Dhilung (1538519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636190)

Ignited my sense of wonder after a while.

Creepy penguin eyes (1)

DryGrian (1775520) | more than 3 years ago | (#35636820)

The AquaPenguin video is pretty cool too, but the eerie glowing blue eyes are creepy.

What a beautiful thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637010)

Wonder how long it'll take before we start killing each other with it.

My wife's take: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637132)

Couldn't they make it with at least a little color? :-/

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637202)

This is quite amazing. Such a jump from previous flying technology. The inventor/s are to be congratulated.
However it still makes me stop and reflect... after thousands of years and we have not quite got near the real thing. When we can package the flying technology, the energy conversion unit (organic matter to energy), a self-repair mechanism, a waste disposal mechanism, a self-reproducing system and autonomy into something less than 20cm long and get it to fly from Australia to East Russia and back (20,000km) each year, then we are finally getting close to what God has created. It makes us stop and think what a wonderful creation is out there.
John G

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35637852)

When we can package the flying technology, the energy conversion unit (organic matter to energy), a self-repair mechanism, a waste disposal mechanism, a self-reproducing system and autonomy into something less than 20cm long and get it to fly from Australia to East Russia and back (20,000km) each year, then we are finally getting close to what God has created. It makes us stop and think what a wonderful creation is out there.
John G

Why would we want to do that?

how long before... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637356)

...we have the Watchbird [imdb.com] ?
And how long before it goes disastrously wrong [imdb.com] ?

Cool. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637500)

But why doesn't the video show it taking off and landing?

Magnificent (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35637916)

This bird is magnificent. The animation and the film on the web site show an elegant mechanism, beautifully implemented.

It looks as though it is behaving as a bird behaves. It looks like it is thinking like a bird. Push the wings. Look around. Choose a direction. Push the wings.

I'd love to see a pelican version, gliding in 20 knots by the beach.

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