Reykjavik University Achieves Holy Grail of Airborne Technology-Drone That Looks and Flies Like a Bird

Flygildi (source: Business Insider Nordic)

December 17, 2018 | Source: Business Insider, nordic.businessinsider.com, Sten Lock, 29 May 2018

Drones are all the rage these days, but the technology still has its limitations. Drones can be noisy and easily spotted, which makes them difficult to use for surveillance.

  • Icelandic startup Flygildi thinks it has unlocked the "holy grail" of drone technology:  its drone looks and flies like a bird.
  • The artificial intelligence-powered drone could come in handy for law enforcement and military purposes.
  • The drone is so bird-like that radars cannot tell it apart from real birds, according to its founder.

Drones are all the rage these days, but the technology still has its limitations. Drones can be noisy and easily spotted, which makes them difficult to use for surveillance.

Enter renowned Icelandic inventor Hjalti Hardarson and his latest endeavor, Flygildi, the Silent Flyer.

The autonomous drone comes with all the regular functions, but on top of that, it is quiet and it looks and flies like a bird.

"The Holy Grail for drone technology has always been the ability to fly without rotors and using flapping wings instead," said Hardardson.

The idea is both simple and radical. "First, we build a bird-like device where we use seabirds as models. Secondly, we use evolutionary computational methods to teach the device to fly like a bird," Hardarson explained.

The Silent Flyer will make it a lot easier to do surveillance for law enforcement, according to Hardarson. "In any scenario where you do surveillance on a large group of people, at a concert or a soccer game, you can now do it without being detected," he said. "In addition, the Silent Flyer can stay airborne longer than regular propeller drones because the wings make it more energy efficient."

For the military, the Silent Flyer comes with an added bonus. "The drone is so bird-like that radars cannot tell it apart from real birds. Naturally, that is a crucial factor for military use," Hardarson said.

The Icelandic startup expects to start pilot sales in 2019 and have a fully developed product by 2020.