Robo Raven Gets Attacked By Real Hawks [Video]

Robo Raven is a robot bird drone that flies like a bird — enough like a bird that sometimes hawks decide that they’ve had enough and come over to attack the flying robot. One of the attacks was recently caught on a video posted by the University of Maryland Robotics Center where the artificial birds are being designed. You should definitely check out the footage I’ve posted below.

According to his blog, robotics expert S.K. Gupta has been working on the flying robot for eight years. Even though there are an estimated almost 10,000 species of birds, and most of them fly, it turns out that it’s surprisingly hard to built a working flying robot. He noted:

“I am glad that this looked deceptively straightforward in the beginning; otherwise we would have never started on this adventurous journey. How hard can it be to build two wings and flap them using a motor? It turns out to be quite challenging if you want the bird to actually fly!”

The group’s first successful bird drone flight was in 2007, but they continued to develop more advanced models. Once the Robo Ravens began to fly without crashing, they began to attract the attention of the local birds of prey.

“A hawk felt threatened by our ‘bird’ and tore it apart in the mid-flight on multiple occasions!” Gupta wrote.

The newest Robo Raven is extremely lightweight for its two foot long wingspan. Because the artificial bird may eventually have a military or surveillance purpose, the UMD Robotics Center has received some funding from the US Army Research Laboratory.

John Gerdes, an engineer at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, has worked with Gupta on the project. He agreed that other birds definitely take notice of the Robo Ravens.

Gulls might simply fly alongside the robot, but hawks “will dive and attack by hitting the bird from above with their talons.”

You can watch the whole story of the Robo Raven on this video, but if you’re the impatient type who just wants to see the hawk attack, skip ahead to 1.49:

I’m not 100 percent convinced that the hawk believed the Robo Raven was a real bird. I think the raptor may have just wanted it gone, whatever it was.

What do you think of the Robo Raven bird drone hawk attack?

[red-tailed hawk photo by Sivaprasad R. L. via Flickr and Creative Commons]