Is it a bird? Well, yes it is – a Bionic Bird, in fact – and moreover it’s a “furtive drone”. Before you start thinking we’ve lost our bionic marbles, this is actually a drone project which has been successfully funded on Indiegogo.
Indeed, the project managed to hit $155,000 (£103,000), which was way past its modest target of $25,000 (£16,500).
This drone looks like a bird, weighing just over 8 grams and coming with a pair of flapping wings – which is why it’s the “furtive drone”, because it’s not so obviously a quad-copter or other traditional drone shape. In other words, particularly from a distance, it might be mistaken for a bird – and you can spy on folks with impunity (possibly).
It has a range of 100 metres, flies at a speed of 12mph, and is controlled by a smartphone app (using Bluetooth 4.0 for the connection). You get 10 minutes of flight time from the on-board battery, and the drone comes with a portable egg-shaped charger it perches on top of (rather niftily) – this charges the device up inside 12 minutes (hopefully it doesn’t hatch if you forget about it and the leave the bird on charge for hours).
The initial version, which is due out in March of this year, is essentially just a remote controlled virtual bird, but the plan is to add an HD camera complete with mechanical and hydraulic stabilisation tech, which pipes live footage back to your handset. The timetable for the bird sees the camera coming on board for winter 2016, so not in the near future. The ability to hover will also be introduced down the line.
Currently, you can pre-order the first-gen Bionic Bird for $139 (£92) including shipping, and that includes the bird itself, the charger and one pair of replacement wings, with delivery set for March 21.
The iOS app is already out and available to download, while development on the Android app is well underway, and it will presumably be finished for March.