One of the things that researchers have been trying to figure out for a long time is the exact mechanics behind how birds and insects are able to fly. The reason is that many of nature's flying machines are capable of generating much more lift than the aircraft people can design today. By discovering more behind the mechanics of how bird and insect wings operate, we can possibly design more efficient aircraft.
A company called Festo has announced a new mechanical bird that is based on a Herring Gull. The bird is called simply SmartBird. It's much larger than the real animal it takes its shape from and it uses two flapping wings. Each of the wings moves in a method that provides both lift and propulsion.
The mechanical bird is able to start, fly, and land autonomously. The wings on the SmartBird flap up and down and they twist at precise angles as well. The video at the source site below is very interesting to watch. The flapping of the wings is very impressive and the bird almost looks alive.