IITians develops mechanical bird capable of spying

KANPUR: An MTech student of Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur has come up with an `ornithopter' (mechanical bird) made out of scrap that is not only capable of flapping its mechanical wings just like birds but can also be used for spying. The bird, if fitted with cameras, can take pictures of enemy terrains. A prototype of `ornithopter' bagged the Eagle competition held at Techkriti on Sunday.

The prototype of the mechanical bird, which is made of wood, polythene, bamboo and aluminium, consists of gears, DC motor, battery and toy helicopter parts. The `ornithopter' is in the shape of an eagle and is one metre long.

Joydeep Bhowmik, MTech first year student of IIT-Kanpur, who has made the mechanical bird, said that a smaller version of the mechanical bird can be used for spying purposes.

"Ornithopter is made out of gamai wood and cut into a bird shape. Glued together and tied with thread for reinforcement, an old xerox machine consisting of gears were isolated. Holes were drilled on the frame for accommodating the gear shafts. Empty refills were used as bearing bush. The gear box was covered by a aluminium sheet metal case. It is then painted with black acrylic paint."

Bhowmik said that the wing spar was made of bamboo and the wing membrane made of polythene bag. It was supported by plastic ribs cut out of transparent sheets (used for spiral bindings etc.) "These ribs give the profile of the wing during flapping. Struts made of bamboo were used to give the stiffness to the wing. The tail is also made of wood strips with a polythene cover. The mechanical bird is battery operated and governed by a remote control.

Bhowmik said that the mechanical bird uses its wings to fly.

"To see a mechanical bird flapping wings and flying is most satisfying for me. The flapping mechanism is a four-bar mechanism, which flaps the wings from 0 to 60 degrees," he said.

"Cameras can be used to capture pictures. There are cases of aircraft being hit by birds. An 'ornithopter' painted like an hawk or an eagle can keep birds away," he said.

The model of `ornithopter' is capable of sustaining in air for 15 minutes. He said that he is trying to increase the capacity of batteries so as to enhance its stay in the air for almost half-an-hour.

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