Bird-Like Drones Developed in China

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. mimic / ˈmɪmɪk / (v) – to copy how someone/something moves or behaves

    The human-like robot can mimic people’s movements.

  2. lifelike / ˈlaɪf.laɪk / (adj) – appearing to be similar to someone/something it represents

    The statue looks so lifelike! It looks like a real person.

  3. stand out / stænd aʊt / (phrasal) – to be better or more impressive than others

    I will hire the one who stands out from the rest of the applicants.

  4. short of (something) / ʃoɚt ʌv / (idiom) – lacking something

    I cannot pay my bills because I am short of money.

  5. gust / ɡʌst / (n) – a strong but short rush of wind

    A sudden gust blew my hat off.


Read the text below.

A group in China has developed drones that mimic the appearance and movements of real birds.

Called “Dove,” the bird-like drones are part of a program led by Song Bifeng, a professor at a university in Xi’an, China. Before the drones were launched, Song’s team carried out around 2,000 test flights in several areas. During the test flights, the drones were so lifelike that actual birds were not afraid to fly with them.

In the future, the team expects the Dove drones to be widely used because they stand out from ordinary drones.

The Dove drones have wings with a 50-centimeter span. They are equipped with electric motors that allow the wings to move up and down. With a weight of about 200 grams and a speed of up to 40 kilometers per hour, the drones can accelerate, fly upward, and dive. They also move very quietly, allowing them to fly undetected.

Additionally, each drone has a camera and a Global Positioning System antenna. To be able to take quality videos and photos, the drones have a system that can counter rough movements.

Despite these features, Song admitted that the drones are still short of protective components. This is because the drones lack an anti-collision technology, so they are likely to crash into things that are flying their way. They also cannot fly long distances, and they can be affected by storms and gusts.

Currently, Song and his team are working on resolving these issues. With the help of artificial intelligence, they are hopeful that the next versions of these bird-like drones will be smarter and more independent.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think can be the uses of the Dove drones in China? Explain.
• What are the possible disadvantages of using the Dove drones? Why?

Discussion B

• If you were to develop your own drone, what would be its features? What would you use it for?
• Should there be regulations for the use of drones? Why or why not?