Festo’s newest biomimetic robots are a flying feathered fowl and ball-bottomed helper arm

You might be excused for pondering that German robotics firm Festo does nothing however put collectively fabulous prototype robots constructed to resemble kangaroos, jellyfish, and different dwelling issues. They do the truth is truly make actual industrial robots, but it surely’s onerous to not marvel at their biomimetic experiments; Working example, the feathered BionicSwift and absurd BionicMobileAssistant motile arm.

Festo already has a flying fowl robotic — I wrote about it almost 10 years ago. They even made a flying bat as a follow-up. However the BionicSwift is extra spectacular than each as a result of, in an effort to extra carefully resemble its avian inspiration, it flies utilizing synthetic feathers.

Picture Credit: Festo

“The person lamellae [i.e. feathers] are made from an ultralight, versatile however very strong foam and lie on high of one another like shingles. Linked to a carbon quill, they’re hooked up to the precise hand and arm wings as within the pure mannequin,” Festo writes in its description of the robotic.

The articulating lamellae permit the wing to work like a fowl’s, forming a strong scoop on the downstroke to push towards the air, however separating on the upstroke to supply much less resistance. The whole lot is managed on-board, together with the indoor positioning system that the fowl was ostensibly constructed to show. Flocks of BionicSwifts can fly in shut quarters and keep away from one another utilizing an extremely wideband setup.

Festo’s BionicMobileAssistant looks like it could be extra sensible, and in a manner it’s, however not by a lot. The robotic is mainly an arm rising from a wheeled base — or somewhat a balled one. The spherical backside is pushed by three “omniwheels,” letting it transfer simply in any path whereas minimizing its footprint.

The hand is a showcase of recent robotic gripper design, with all types of cutting-edge tech packed in there — however the result’s lower than the sum of its elements. What makes a robotic hand good lately is much less that it has 100 sensors within the palm and fingers and large motility for its thumb, however somewhat intelligence about what it’s gripping. An unadorned pincer could also be a greater “hand” than one that appears like the actual factor due to the software program that backs it up.

To not point out the spherical motion technique makes for one thing of an unstable base. It’s telling that the robotic is transporting scarves and never plates of meals or elements.

After all, it’s foolish to criticize such a machine, which is aspirational somewhat than sensible. But it surely’s vital to grasp that these fascinating creations from Festo are hints at a attainable future greater than something.

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