The Bionic Bird is a super ultra-lightweight (9.3 g) furtive drone that is connected by Bluetooth and controlled by your smartphone. Designed by aeronautic engineer Edwin Van Ruymbeke, Bionic Bird was inspired by Edwin’s father Tim – who in 1969, created the Tim Bird, a small wing-flapping bird powered by a rubber band. In a 45 year span, 20 Million of these wind-up flying birds were sold. You might remember these as a kid: just a rubber band and a wooden bird.
The French start-up XTIM has now launched arguably the most innovative drone on the market today. After looking up the definition of furtive (a: “done by stealth: surreptitious) and learning the inspiration behind the drone’s design, calling the Bionic Bird the first furtive drone makes complete sense. XTIM’s use of micro-technology to engineer the drone’s bird-like aerodynamics is what makes this drone a success story. Using a type of engineering (Biomimetics) that “takes advantage of the inventions found in nature,” Ruymbeke created a drone that can easily maneuver in your living room or fly within a 100-meter range outside.
The secret to the Bionic Bird’s eagle-like aerodynamic agility: its ultra-compact structure and propriety-patented speed reducer at the end of the motor. In other words, the Bionic Bird has a centrally aligned “spinal cord” and an adjustable tail that allows for soaring as well as precise turning in small spaces. What’s even more impressive: users can pilot the Bionic Bird with their smart phone. Just by tilting your iPhone or controlling the speed with your fingertip, the drone can easily dive bomb left or right with bird-like maneuverability. Activate the expert mode and you can fly the drone using classic radio-command controls.
The lightweight carbon fiber design allows for long-lasting soaring. You’re even able to cut the throttle and just admire the Bionic Bird gliding through the air. It resembled so much like a bird there have been known attacks, by larger prey, on the Bionic Bird – buyer beware! Since it’s capable of flying indoors, you can imagine the interest level of a household cat seeing a bird whipping through the living room. With a simple adjustment of the tail for maximum flight power, the Bionic Bird drone can reach speeds of up to 6.2 mph (20 km/hr) and has a 10-minute flight time.
The Bionic Bird accessories are just as innovative as the drone itself. A portable egg that doubles as a designer perch powers the Bionic Bird. Capable of charging in twelve minutes, the power egg has enough power to recharge the Bionic Bird around 12 times. It also comes in a convenient size: able to slip right into your pocket. It’s your portable power pack that is discrete, yet carries a ton of juice when needed. That’s especially convenient because of Bionic Bird’s limited flight time of 10 minutes. The egg itself takes approximately one hour to become fully charged.
With each prototype tested under rigorous conditions, Bionic Bird is designed to last through hundreds of flights. Since it’s designed as a lightweight drone, it has been engineered to survive impacts with the ground or objects, like a nearby oak tree. Along with the portable rechargeable egg and the USB cord, each drone comes with two spare wings and a packet of aluminum weights to balance each wing. If the wings are compromised during flight, you have a kit ready to mend the situation and get the bird back up in the air.
One of the greatest features of the Bionic Bird, in my opinion, is its adjustable tail effect. You’re able to perform aerial tricks and at the same time, adjust modes for indoor use. You can even play with energy saving techniques, like soaring, to maximize the 10-minute flight time.
Designed by an engineer passionate about technology, the Bionic Bird’s maneuverability is well beyond the capabilities of other drones. From its wing propulsion to the high-end radio control technology (2.4 GHz), Ruymbeke left no stone unturned when it comes to Bionic Bird’s micro-technology. His design is the perfect balance between nature and technology. Ruymbeke, after watching how real birds perform, said, “We developed and patented a control system that uses wing bending, enabling fast and instantaneous maneuvers that are not possible with a classical drift system.”