Eagle-inspired robot flies by flapping its feather-covered wings

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A robotic bird with flapping wings covered in real feathers has flown for the first time. It could be used to provide insight into how real birds fly, or create stealthy drones that appear to observers as normal 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 the way they would lay on a real bird.

An electric motor powered the flapping wings, using …

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