If you have ever attended the Hannover Fair in Germany, you have probably seen some of the novel robotic demonstrations at the booth of Festo Corp. Festo often works with engineering students at German universities to come up with interesting applications of pneumatics. Demos in years past have included anthropomorphic robot arms powered by pneumatic actuators, aquatic robots that swim like fish, and mini dirigibles.
In the same vein, a recent Festo creation got its ten minutes of fame at the renowned TED conference. Its Smartbird robot uses an electric motor to move a carbon fiber framework to mimic the flight of a bird. The whole thing weighs about 400 gm.
We recently covered Smartbird's technology: http://machinedesign.com/article/hannover-fair-robotic-bird-demonstrates-efficient-flight-0504
And the video of its flight at TED is really pretty interesting.
Festo's page on Smartbird: http://www.festo.com/cms/en_corp/11369_11439.htm#id_11439
The TED video: http://conferences.ted.com/TEDGlobal2011/