Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Festo SmartBird to make Canadian debut at CMTS

June 20, 2013
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Visitors to the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show (CMTS) 2013 this fall will get a bird’s eye view of the latest breakthroughs in automation technology – in more ways than one.

Among the technologies showcased will be the first-of-its-kind Festo SmartBird, which will make its Canadian debut at the show, which takes place at The International Centre from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch as the intelligent robotic SmartBird—which looks and moves like a herring gull—takes flight during scheduled demonstrations at the show.

Recognized internationally as a major advancement in energy efficiency and lightweight design for automation, the ultralight, aerodynamic SmartBird takes off, flies, glides and lands autonomously. Weighing only 450 grams (15.87 ounces) with a wingspan of 1.96 metres (6.4 feet), the SmartBird is extremely agile, with wings that not only beat up and down, but also twist at specific angles similar to a real bird. Like the real thing, its tail also has a function, acting as a rudder, and tilting and rotating to initiate turns and produce lift.

The SmartBird – first unveiled in Europe in 2011 – is the innovation of Germany-based Festo, a leading world-wide supplier of automation technology, with Canadian headquarters in Mississauga. With SmartBird, Festo has succeeded in unravelling the mystery of bird flight – one of the oldest dreams of humankind.


The practical applications emerging from this discovery are numerous, according to the company. For example, the robot’s minimal use of materials and lightweight construction will help increase efficiencies in resource and energy consumption, while its mechanics can be transferred to the development of hybrid drive technology and the next generation of robotic aircraft. As well, its airflow characteristics will give insight into the development and production of the latest generations of cylinders and valves.

“The SmartBird is part of Festo’s ongoing commitment to learn and gain inspiration for industrial applications from nature, and we are thrilled to be able to showcase the SmartBird for the first time in Canada at the upcoming Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show,” said Jaclyn Rand, marketing specialist, Festo.

According to Event Manager Julie Pike: “As Canada’s national manufacturing event, CMTS is all about providing visitors with a glimpse of the manufacturing automation possibilities of the future, and the SmartBird is a perfect example of the leading-edge innovations that will be presented.”

Pike added that, through the SmartBird, “Festo has acquired additional knowledge for the optimization of its product solutions and has learned to design even more efficiently – an achievement the company is looking forward to sharing with the Canadian manufacturing industry.”

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