Watch a bird take off. Start with some pigeons, then some sea gulls. If you can, watch an albatross - on YouTube if nothing else. As you get larger, you get heavier; as you get heavier you need more lifting force (ie, bigger wings, moving faster). Recall that weight is a function of volume and increases with the cube of your dimensions, while lifting force is a function of surface area and only increases with the square of your dimensions. Very very roughly if you're twice as big, you get four times the surface area but eight times the weight, meaning that as you get larger flying goes from being "difficult" to impossible. And a man is large, and the batteries and motors he was allegedly using just add weight.
All of which is a long way of saying that he runs very slowly, his wings are very small, and they flap very slowly. The first couple seconds of him after take off our patently absurd; you need to be applying - somehow - hundreds of pounds of force to the air to push you off the ground. Yes, fine, he has a wonderful wing design and some amazing motors and (apparently) zero weight batteries. Fantastic! But none of the components in that video are producing hundreds of pounds of force. (A commenter at Wired estimates that the servo motors are theoretically applying enough force to pick up a two ton load, in fraction of a second. If we had this tech, we could fly, although that wing design probably couldn't. We could also make Iron Man-style powered armour. Unfortunately, we don't have this tech.) The whole thing is multiple orders of magnitude off from the realm of "remotely possible".
There are just so many red flags. The bizarre edits, the poor filming, the ridiculous design of the wing, the secrecy, the way nobody in the video acts right, the way the wing magically changes designs in different shots, the fact that the wing is clearly not fully loaded, the weird clothing and gear choices, etc., etc., etc. Wired has been hoaxed hard.
Birds don't fly by flapping up and down - they flap down and back, then fold the wing and pull it forward and up.
If you just flap and up and down you move up and down, but you don't fly. You need motion to cause forward acceleration, not just up and down bobbing.
Fake, it's simply impossible for the shown flapping method to cause him to fly.
See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSikfcJezy4#t=180s and notice how the bird folds the wings as it pulls them up, then spreads them as it pushes down. The folded wings give less resistance to the air than the spread ones, and that difference lets it fly. Without that you can't fly by flapping. To move forward it also has a front back motion that is harder to see in the video, but is still visible.
As someone has pointed out elsewhere, you can see in one of their other videos that they have major inconsistencies in the videos that they post. For instance, in this picture, http://i.imgur.com/3Fgct.jpg you can see that there is no black square above the "S" logo. Then, the camera points downward, then upward again, and there is a black square above the "S" logo.
That's the most annoying inconsistency for me. I think that could be a patch to the wing applied after they managed to pull out the cloth from the spar (if you look at the blog a bit, there are some posts showing that issue). I think the shitty cut around 1:20ish could be them looking down during a screwed launch attempt, and splicing back in after adding the patch. You'll notice in the following video the patch is there from the start.
There is a Dutch news clipping from about a week after video 13 that shows the dude without the patch, which is puzzling. Again, easily explained as using an old photo from before 13, but still.
I think we are all focusing on the wrong issue - that is whether this is real or fake. Who cares! What matters here is that this guy has come up with the idea of using robotic extensions of our limbs, powered by electric motors, to help us in achieving flight.
If we now switch to this mindset, the engineering and tools that we have today should allow us to achieve the desired goal.
So thanks for the hoax, Flying Dutchman - you have started something new here, and your name will not be remembered by what you did, but rather by what you did not and how others used your idea to achieve it.
It's not the power output of the motors I was questioning, but the overall strength of the system. A back of the envelope calculation (from a commentator at Wired) suggests we're seeing a lever ratio of around 30:1; simplifying greatly that implies each side is moving a 1.5 ton weight back and forth multiple times per second. This is challenging for far more than the motor.
Mind you, 2000w does sound low. The Festo SmartBird weighs less than 500g, and uses around 25w to fly. If you scale it up linearly, that says 2000w would be enough for 40kg, which is less than half what we need. But the Festo SmartBird is a vastly more sophisticated design, and among other things actually flaps its wings in a way which generates lift, unlike this guys design. (Very useful, that.) It's going to be much more efficient than this wing design, so we're actually looking at a much larger power deficit.
Incidentally, the Festo SmartBird is a pretty amazing project; anyone who found this wing design interesting would probably be interested in it. Check out this writeup with a brief video of the bird in flight or this much longer video of the design process.
The second link, in particular, underscores just how impossible the idea of some guy on his own throwing together some wings and managing to fly is. Bird flight is an amazingly hard problem to solve, even for a bird sized model.
I agree. It is good to be skeptical - as they say extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Experts are trained to be skeptical. I am not saying that video may not be a fake but I am also equally skeptical about all the expert opinion on the impossibility of it all. And that is because experts have a long tradition of often being dead wrong about what is possible. Lord Kelvin - who was England's top scientist and President of the Royal Society flatly stated in 1895 that "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible" - just a decade before he was proven wrong.
There are many more similar examples in the history of progress. It is a good thing inventors also have a long tradition - of ignoring experts and just trying to achieve what has been claimed as impossible.
That approximate wing loading calculation is assuming there is sufficient force to fully load the wing. He's not going to get that load on the wing by jogging a few feet and flapping those things at 1hz.
1) You have the engineering fortitude to come up with something that has never been done before, and you choose to attach it to your body with a consumer grade backback? And not even a full hiking one with multiple points of attachment? No rock-climbing harness?
2) Fabric is waaay too loose on the wings to be effective in any kind of aerodynamic sense. At best this is a kite
3) He would "only be able to come up with 5% of the power needed", so he used a bunch of Turnigy motors and some magical super-compact power supply to provide the necessary lift? Not to mention, motors aren't exactly built for rapid oscillation back and forth, and I see no complex mechanisms to turn rotations into a very strong/rapid oscillating force
4) There are ZERO control surfaces on those wings to be able to pull up for a landing like he does. No, that pillow case between his legs doesn't count.
5) An Android operated system, that dynamically reads two separate wii remotes, and converts that accelerometer input into wing movements would not be that responsive.
6) No continuous shot from take-off to landing
7) No shot of the gear used to accomplish this, whether it be the motors/batteries/wiring/pulleys
It's an entirely different mechanism, hence the difference in movement. Note also that the wings are powered by peddling, whereas the birdman has accelerometer-controlled wings (individually controlled, rather).
2) If it's a kite and gets off the ground, so what? Worked, didn't it? Also, for wings, it just has to be glider plus produce enough thrust off the flapping to keep it aloft, yeah? We're not making an airplane here. EDIT: Looks like there is an internal core wing structure (http://www.humanbirdwings.net/wp-content/gallery/fixingwings...) with the extra fabric functioning somewhat like secondary feathers.
3) Motors alone aren't made for rapid oscillation--that's why we have other mechanical devices such as cams, pistons, etc. If you listen carefully at liftoff you can hear a highpitched whine, perhaps a small IC engine. EDIT: Confirmed as electric motors using battery packs.
4) You probably just need to change the angle of attack, and maybe dick around with Cg and Cp. So, until I see your numbers, I'm not discounting this out of hand.
5) Where in the press release does it say he uses an Android OS? It says he uses accelerometers from an HTC smartphone, sure, but I didn't see anything about running Android. EDIT: Taking my own advice, look here for system diagram: (http://www.humanbirdwings.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/exp...). He uses one phone per wing, plus additional computation power.
Also, birds don't generate lift from merely flapping their wings up and down, they generate lift due to the angle of attack of the wing during the upstroke and downstroke. The wings in this video don't address this issue.
Depends on the bird and mode of flight. Large birds like condors basically glide like fixed-wing aircraft, flapping every few minutes; hummingbirds flap at 200 Hz and use various aerodynamic tricks to stay aloft. The flight in the video looks similar to the that of those toy flapping birds powered by a rubber band. It's possible to flap & fly without fully articulated twisting wings, just not as efficient.
True, however those toy birds generate forward thrust and rely on the tail to move upwards or downwards since they're so simplistic. There is no tail on the device in the video, so there's no mechanism driving it upward.
1) Missing square element in real footage.
2) What bothers me more is that shadow properties are not consistent. In CGI it is more diffuse and changes properties like if the Sun is positioned 10m above.
I've worked in the visual effects industry and I don't think this is CGI, at least not in the sense that most commenters mean, a digital rendering of the dude and the wings. If it is, there's a lot of small details that they got right. It could be, and the poor quality of the video makes it hard to tell for sure, but I think that's misdirection.
My guess is that the wings are not mechanical at all beyond being flexible, and he's just pulling on them to flap, and they pulled the guy from an ATV or something. His motion looks like a kite, when he's flapping wildly the front of his chest stays pretty stable and looks like it's anchored. The wings look like they could be modified versions of those kite-surfing things people use.
It's a hell of a lot easier to paint out a wire and a vehicle than it is to put in a synthetic flying dude. and that would get you the helmet-cam footage without having to do extra work.
Also there's tire tracks on the ground from previous takes.
There is simply not enough air being moved by those airfoils to lift a 150+ lb object off the ground. He'd need much more speed than that. Or much more wing area. Or much faster articulation. And in any of those cases, the pathetic "wings" would deform horribly and ruin any aerodynamic properties they might possibly possess.
Now that I've actually watched the video, there's something I'd like to add to the list of red flags others have already pointed out: His landing trajectory. It's way too steep and forward. He'd have to enjoy a near 1:1 thrust ratio to land at that angle, and he'd have to have been pitched up and back to apply all of that thrust against gravity and his forward motion.
I believe this could be real, but the wings are powered by 4 electric motors. He uses an HTC Android phone and a WiiMote to read the movements of his arms, and that readings are used to control the wings.
There's no need for you to position yourself as a gatekeeper for HN comments, either, but you're doing it anyway. Who elected you to quota individual comments? When you went after me, I had left three comments on this entry. There were more than a dozen by the time you said something, and I had made my point and was willing to back out.
If you've identified a noise problem in the signal -- the only possible reason to go directly after another commenter and expect that you're improving HN at all -- how does spamming yet more about the noise problem improve the situation for anybody?
Thanks for reminding me why I don't contribute to HN, by the way. I'll show myself back out.
I haven't done anything ^ extreme or cool on that level, but I'm pretty introverted and don't necessarily get excited externally too much. It could be plausible that he's introverted as well and doesn't go crazy like some people. My parents often were upset with me because they didn't think I liked what they got me for my birthday, christmas, etc. but on the inside I really was happy/excited.
So all that to say, everyone handles events differently and it's hard to have a set guideline for how people act.
My thoughts too. There does just doesn't seem to be enough adrenalin in his system. If it's real, he doesn't understand the risk he just exposed himself too. At those heights, any sort of malfunction would probably see him dead.
I've thought about whether we'll start to see things like this soon with composites and nanofibers. I'd love to see the math taken apart, I assume we're still a ways away from it.
The first person to really fly like this may well be a double amputee or other person generally thought of as "disabled". Someone like Bob Wieland would have an enormous advantage on paper over someone like the guy in the video.
In the part 14 video, at 0:34 it cuts to another camera on the right much closer to the point of liftoff. It's not a long range shot because the angle seems to sweep up to 45 degrees quickly. A camera at this position should be visible in the shot before, but there's not one.
Edit: OK at 0:23 you catch a glimpse of someone by the lake that might be in position for that shot.
This is the beginning of an ad campaign. My old agency used to do these things all the time. Here's one we created to make Japan look more intimidating leading up to an A-League match,
I'm just a beginning hang glider pilot - but everybody at the largest national hang gliding site (http://hanggliding.org) calls fake. The main clue from a hang glider's perspective is that the wings absolutely don't look loaded. Assuming power source, batteries, etc all were available there's no way those flapping trailing edges are actually bearing weight by pushing against the air.
The only part that really ruins it for me is, where is the battery powering the electric motors?
I mean, since I am ignorant about aerodynamics and a bunch of stuff, I can suspend my disbelief about the wing actually providing enough lift, and suppose that there exist incredibly powerful motors that could operate in that way.
I would even like to believe that there is an ultrapowerful battery that would be able to provide enough juice for these incredible motors. But where is it?
He is just flying for 30 seconds, you don't need much battery for that. 500gram LiPo should have more than enough juice for that.
Look at your laptop battery, they are around 50Wh which should be able to provide 2kW for almost 2 minutes, disregarding the maximum current it can pump out.
This is what makes me doubt if it really is fake or not. "Why has nobody done this before"? Because light weight power storage and motors has not been available until now. But the videos smell CG so I'm still calling fake on this one.
Skeptical. Camera angles coming from the helmet are different in two shots and his head isn't moving at all. Stationary. You would think when flying, your head would be moving slightly, but his is not.
I also see a bit of CGI in his legs when he is shown to be flapping in the air.
Agreed with others that it's probably fake, but there I disagree that it's impossible. One of the slightly counter-intuitive things you learn when becoming a pilot is that you take off into the wind rather than with a tailwind. The wings don't care what your ground speed is when creating lift, they care about your airspeed. Given a big enough "kite" and a nice headwind and of course you can do this. Kitesurfers, kiteboarders, and hangliders do this all the time. The flapping may or may not assist, but it's certainly not doing the brunt of the work.
I initially thought it was real but after all the negative posts I have looked at the video closely. The GoPro camera take of the landing is what gives it away. Note how low the camera goes next to the ground, while we see the pilot always standing as he lands it. The flight was probably filmed with an RC and that is why see the camera go so low as it lands. But whether this is fake or not, it's irrelevant. This is a great idea and with the proper brains behind it, one should be able to make it work.
I am sorry if someone already pointed that out but i just realized how fake this is. Watch that video. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Q0tKFOcHyrI while guy is about to take off(1:49), everyone including cameraman runs for some reason and we can not see the guy with the wings for a second. Then when we see the guy again and there is a black squaure box next to big s logo this time. You can see that video is edited at 1:52
That doesn't look off to me. There is a dark spot in the first frame -- it's just masked by the much larger shadow going across the whole wing.
It seems fake to me, but I have yet to be convinced there's CGI. If it were CGI, within 2-3 hours someone will post a statistical analysis of the images. That would be extremely obvious, whereas most people in this thread are pointing out things that are ambiguous.
I mean they if they got the trees, the shadows, and the grass right, then I have a hard time believing they forgot to remove a dot somewhere on the wing. Those aren't the kinds of mistakes you would expect if someone was trying to match CGI to real footage.
Has anyone pointed out that wind direction makes a hell of a lot of difference to this - if he was running into a strong headwind I'd say this is almost possible. Ever try holding onto a big kite like that in a strong wind?
It's quite obviously fake -- given that we are 11 days from April Fools, it's probably either an April Fools joke discovered prematurely, or set-up for a bigger one. Maybe something similar to the tale of icarus.
Where does it "insinuate this is human powered flight"? The article is quite up-front about the fact that human power would fall 95% short and that in reality the arms were only being used as controls, not for power.
painfully fake. i'm surprised that there is even any discussion as the whether it is fake. putting aside the breaking of the laws of physics the actual cgi shots are c-grade at best. Look a the linked wired video between 0:35 - 0:40 the cgi is laughable.
i can't wait for the fine-tuning and improvements to the wing design and mechanical assistance system to reach flying finesse.
with all respect though, he really looks like a giant bird taking off and then gliding.
on another note, it'd be so cool to watch human flying sports to spawn from this à la track or polo.
Just above the blue batteries you'll see two little walky-talkie looking things. Those are motor controllers (note the thick wires coming off of them). Those are mounted on a plate. The motors are farther up, under the plate.
This video is fake, that has been established beyond doubt. But CGI, even "prosumer" CGI like this, is really getting better. Even at this level, people are relying on "hints" that a CGI transition has taken place - camera looks away, is obscured, or the picture is blurry.
Give it a couple of years and those distracting-from-transition tricks probably won't be necessary any more. Then what?
That's not the interesting part. Interesting is when you can do indistinguishable CGI replacement in real time. And then from there, when you can do it in the camera (or on a smartphone). Then what, indeed.
You're not the only one. If this is real, they seem to have gone out of their way with editing to make it look like a fakery. I would have been far, far more convinced by simple, unedited HD footage. For what it's worth, a friend of mine who is a Boeing engineer saw it and cried "fake." I think I need more information.
Liquid Mountaineering looks to be the exact opposite of this.
That was clearly a platform just under the surface of the water. The actual footage was genuine, they just weren't doing what they claimed to be doing, whereas this certainly looks to be a total fake job.
It's oh so convenient that the cameraman "happens" to look down and the camera happens to blur (what is it refocusing on?) between the time when the wings are resting on the ground and when they are picked up and ready for the test flight. Then the camera is conveniently moving and keeping things just a tad blurry while the wings start up. If you compare the appearance of the wings before and after the cut you'll notice some slight differences.
Definitely fake as there is a black square on the right wing in the later (CGI, after the camera has looked up again) images that doesn't exist in the earlier (real) footage. You can clearly see this in the video and your screengrab.
From the video it is also obvious that there is no way someone could have stuck that there in the time it took for the camera to turn away and back again.
Have you ever tried to video kids trying to launch a kite or a glider?
They really do act just like that. The camera person stops to video and everybody runs in front of him. The camera person needs to change position quickly so you tape the grass whirling for a few seconds.