Cool but also very creepy

First Flight Of The RoboSwift Micro-Airplane Is A Success:

The Dutch National Police Services Agency (KLPD) is continually looking for innovations that are applicable to police work and sees possibilities in the Roboswift. It is therefore supporting the project financially. For example, the RoboSwift could help the police in case of accidents, demonstrations and in enforcement and surveillance. Morphing wings The RoboSwift is characterised by the continuously variable shape of its wings, known as ‘morphing’ wings, which are modelled on the wings of the swift. These wings make the aircraft, like its living model, very manoeuvrable and efficient. As a result, the RoboSwift is the first aircraft in the world to have the wing properties of living birds. Wind tunnel tests have shown that it can come remarkably close to the exceptional flying ability of the swift. With a wingspan of approximately 50 cm and a weight of less than 100 g, the RoboSwift is a good deal smaller than standard model aeroplanes. To gain elevation, it is equipped with a very quiet electric motor with a propeller. The silhouette of the RoboSwift is similar to that of an actual swift, which makes it less noticeable than other observation aircraft and helicopters. The ‘pilot’ is now being trained in birdlike flying behaviour, which will later include gliding flights. During gliding flights, the motor is turned off and the propeller folds up so the aircraft can fly even more quietly and save energy.

I wonder if any human pilot will be able to do the kind of job that a swift does. Those birds are just amazing. But eventually enough computing power should do nicely. They’re going to need piles of that just to extract usable footage from the cameras, unless people want to get sick watching them. (The best way to do it would be to have about half a dozen fliers in a flock, so that a couple of them would be on straight runs at any given moment.) When I was a kid, I used to spend hours at a time in the summer  watching swallows loop up past treetop height, fall out of the air and then skim a foot off the grass for a hundred feet or so before turning to do it again.


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