SmartBird is modelled on the herring gull and can take off, fly and land while its flight is controlled remotely from the ground in real time. To take off, the robotic bird flaps its wings with the help of an onboard motor. As the wings beat, the front edge also twists, enabling airflow along the wings to generate thrust. Once in flight, the tail acts as a rudder to steer the bird through the air. The technology could be used to design "stroke wing generators" - devices that produce energy from water.