I received this note on the Blender Artists Forum
I was reading posts after post, from your blog and it's almost 2'o clock at midnight here in India now. I feel like a insomniac, it's amazing to see that you have carried this idea for 20 long years and still trying to give it a GO. Very encouraging, I must say.
So, after reading all through those again (the last 5-6 posts and some random ones) I find you have done a good deal of R&D about the feasibility of the project you have visioned. And also found there are few common traits between us (which I don't want to reveal now ). Okay, now I was looking for the design/concept you have in your mind and you want to lay out in 3D viz but I couldn't find any. So, I ask you - Do you have any blueprints of it or anything else by which you can relate your exact idea?
I would be looking forward to your reply soon.
Thanks for your interest in my project. Yes, I've been dreaming of the Man Bird for over 20 years but only recently has it begun to seem like the right time. When I first formulated the concept, I looked around at what technologies were available to draw on. It was the early '90s and the PC was new on the scene. The magazine article that stimulated the idea talked about powering a suit that resembled the white Star Wars Storm Trooper rig from the movie. But the proposed actuators were the electroactive polymer muscles and at that time they were just a pipe dream. Other electric, hydrolic and pneumatic actuators were available but a power source, i.e. a battery was not.
Ironically, it is the wars that my country has been engaged in recently that has changed the picture a great deal. It is a mixed blessing that our battlefield medical capability has resulted in the reduction of loss of life for our service men and women. The down side is that literally thousands of them are returning with physical damage that in earlier times would have been fatal. The result is that huge amounts of money has been poured into research in prosthetics. An offshoot of this is the 'man magnifier' research that aims to give the human body super human capabilities.
These are some of the reasons why I think now is the time. The technologies are ripe for the picking. We have computing power that can take electromyographic signals from the body and use them to control actuators powered by either advanced batteries, steam from H2O2, or even an internal combustion engine. We have advanced composites of carbon fiber that is being used for everything from fishing rods to bicycle frames.
So, to answer your second question, do I have any blueprints? No. Sadly, I am not an artist in the sense that I can get my ideas into a graphic form. That is actually why I need someone with your talent and skills. I can try to paint a picture with words to describe what I want and that's what I try to do in this blog.
I am the first to admit that this idea is difficult to accept. After all it was tried centuries ago and discarded, right? I presume this is why no one else to my knowledge has taken up the challenge. It is also why I am looking to the world of 3D Computer generated photo-realistic animation to sell the idea. It is my belief that video clips illustrating the concepts could go viral if they were real enough looking that 'suspension of disbelief' were achieved.
So without a drawing, what does it look like? First imagine a huge raptor, bigger than even the Giant Teratorns. It would have a wingspan of around 36 ft. (12 m) and a wing area around 260 ft2 (24 m2). Then for the design, remove the head and make the body hollow. The chest would open by splitting down the middle and inside would be attachment points for the harness that the pilot would wear. At the joint of the legs corresponding to the heel, would be foot rests for the pilot so that the feet of the machine extend beyond those of the pilot. The pilots legs would be attached to the machine legs as in the 'man magnifier' example above.
The pilot would be wearing a bodysuit that is wired to electromyographic sensors that are connected to a wireless interface with the bird machine. When standing in the machine, the pilots head and shoulders are in the position that the birds would occupy. The system is designed so that the machine responds to gestures and movements of the pilot.
The details of the power system however that may be accomplished for now can be alluded to in the artwork. Although I used the term photo-realistic, I expect that the bird machine would not look exactly like a real bird. Details of texture and flaws such as a real bird might have could be ignored. This would be a manufactured machine after all.
What does need to be as real looking as possible are the animations. The movement of the bird through the simulated air need to be spot on. Of course we have plenty of good models in video clips of raptors and also of hang gliders in flight.
I really believe that this idea has the potential to go big.