Technology

Festo’s latest biomimetic robots are a flying feathered bird and ball-bottomed helper arm

You might be excused for thinking that the German robotics company Festo does nothing with brilliant prototype robots to make kangaroos, jellyfish and other living things alike. They actually make real industrial robots, but it’s hard not to work miracles in their biomimetic experiments; Case in point, the winged BionicSwift and the absurd BionicMobileAssistant motile arm.

Festo already has a flying bird robot – I wrote about it about 10 years ago. He also produced a flying bat as a follow-up. But, he BionicSwift More impressive than both is because, in an effort to get closer to its avian inspiration, it flies using artificial wings.


Image Credit: Festo

“Personal Lamella [i.e. feathers] An ultralight, made of flexible but very strong foam and shingles on top of each other. Connected to the carbon quill, they are attached to real hands and arm wings like natural models, ”Festo writes in the description of the robot.

Artemitting allows the lamellae feather to act like a bird, creating a powerful scoop downward to push against the wind, but falls apart on the upstroke to create less resistance. Everything is controlled on-board, including an indoor positioning system that was intensely built to display the bird. Flocks of BionicSwifts can fly in close quarters and avoid each other using an ultra wideband setup.

Festo’s BionicMobileAssistant It seems that it would be more practical, and in a way it is not more. The robot is basically a hand protruding from a wheel base – or rather a ballade. The spherical plane is operated by three “omniwheels”, allowing it to move easily in any direction while reducing its footprint.

The hand is a showcase of modern robot gripper design, packed with all kinds of cutting-edge technology – but the result is less than the sum of its parts. What makes a robot’s hand good these days is that the palm and fingers have a hundred sensors and huge mobility for its thumb, rather than intelligence about what it is holding. The underappreciated pinner may be a better “hand” that looks like the real thing because of the software that backups it.

The spherical movement strategy is not mentioned for some of an unstable base. It is telling that the robot is transporting scarves, not food or parts plates.

Of course, it is unwise to criticize a machine that is aspirational rather than practical. But it is important to understand that these fascinating creations of Festo are more indicative than anything in the future.

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