By studying the flight of seagulls the German automation company Festo has managed to create a birdlike robot, SmartBird, that is powered by wing strokes rather than propellers. A cleaver piece of engineering that uses lightweight materials to make this airborne machine light enough to flap around in the sky.
This is just one project among many that Festo do every year to demonstrate the possibilities with their components. Last years most interesting creation must be their award winning Bionic handling assistant that definitely looks like something out of a Marvel comic. Thou a bit slow in reality the principle seems to work just fine.
Previous years they have also motorized jellyfish and penguins, among many other things. The theme of all their projects really seems to be to copy mother nature as far as technology will allow and then enhancing it with a few modern features of their own.