A robotic bird with flapping wings covered in real feathers has flown for the first time. It could be used to provide insights into how real birds fly or to create stealthy drones that look like wildlife.
Researchers at Guangxi University in China and Chinese firm Bee-eater Technology built a carbon fibre skeleton linked with aluminium joints and some 3D-printed plastic parts. It was covered in a thin foam and then layered with real goose feathers in a pattern that mimicked that on a real bird.
An electric motor powered the flapping wings, using a gearbox to reduce the output …