Festo SmartBird takes flight at CMTS 2013

The Canadian Manufacturing and Technology Show hosts the Canadian debut of this automation breakthrough Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

June 21, 2013   Joe Terrett

Festo’s SmartBird takes off, flies, glides and lands autonomously. Photo: Festo

TORONTO — The 2013 Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS) will provide visitors with a bird’s eye view of the latest breakthroughs in automation technology.

Making its Canadian debut at the show will be the first-of-its-kind Festo SmartBird, an intelligent robotic device that looks and moves like a herring gull. It will take flight during scheduled demonstrations at the show.

The ultralight, aerodynamic SmartBird takes off, flies, glides and lands autonomously. Weighing only 450 grams (15.87 ounces) with a wingspan of 1.96 metres (6.4 feet), it’s extremely agile. Its wings not only beat up and down, but they also twist at specific angles in a similar way to a real bird. Like the real thing, its tail acts as a rudder, tilting and rotating to initiate turns and produce lift.

The SmartBird – first unveiled in Europe in 2011 – is the innovation of Germany-based Festo, a manufacturer of automation technology, with Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ont.

The company says practical applications emerging from this discovery are numerous. For example, the robot’s minimal use of materials and lightweight construction help increase efficiencies in resource and energy consumption, while its mechanics can be transferred to the development of hybrid drive technology and the next generation of robotic aircraft. As well, its airflow characteristics will give insight into the development and production of the latest generations of cylinders and valves.

“The SmartBird is part of Festo’s ongoing commitment to learn and gain inspiration for industrial applications from nature, and we are thrilled to be able to showcase the SmartBird for the first time in Canada at the upcoming Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show,” said Jaclyn Rand, Festo’s marketing specialist.

CMTS, presented by SME (the Society of Manufacturing Engineers), takes place at The International Centre in Mississauga, Ont. from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. PLANT is a media sponsor of the event. Visit or call 1-888-322-7333.

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