Festo adds a flying swift and ball-bottomed mobile manipulator to its biomimetic robots
German robotics company Festo has come up with two new robots – a feathered BionicSwift and a BionicMobileAssistant arm.
Festo the engineering-driven company, producing and selling pneumatic and electrical control and drive technology for factory or process automation has a long tradition of mimicking mechanisms found in the natural world and it has put together fabulous prototype robots that resemble kangaroos, jellyfish, and other living things.
Engineers of the company have demonstrated a BionicSwift which can mimic the flight maneuvers of the agile birds.
Festo already has a flying bird robot and a flying bat. But the new BionicSwift is far more impressive than both because it resemble its avian inspiration closely and flies using artificial feathers. The articulating lamellae of the new robot allow the wing to work like a bird’s forming a powerful scoop on the downstroke to push against the air, but separating on the upstroke to produce less resistance. Everything is controlled on-board, including the indoor positioning system that the bird was ostensibly built to demonstrate. Flocks of BionicSwifts can fly in close quarters and avoid each other using an ultra-wideband setup.
The BionicSwift weighs 42 grams with a 6 grams battery. One motor controls the wing flapping, while the other two motors are required to actuate the flight surfaces for steering. The flight time of the new swift is seven minutes.
The other robot the ball-bottomed mobile manipulator is a fairly similar design to the company’s mobile base a ballbot, a robot arm called DynaArm, and the BionicSoftHand 2.0. The new robot is an arm emerging from a wheeled base. The spherical bottom is driven by three omniwheels, letting it move easily in any direction minimizing its footprint. It is effective on smooth and flat surfaces, especially in tight quarters, and has the added advantage of being able to handle impulses as long as it has room to maneuver.
A robotic hand is good these days as it has a hundred sensors in the palm and fingers, great motility for its thumb, and intelligence in gripping power.
Festo justifies their development work on BionicSwift by saying, “The intelligent networking of flight objects and GPS routing makes for a 3D navigation system that could be used in the networked factory of the future.”
Over the years the group has unveiled a succession of astonishing robotic creations like seagulls, jellyfish, a robot kangaroo, and dragonflies that have grabbed headlines and helped build a perception that this company is at the top of the innovation game. With these fascinating creations, Festo hints at a possible robotic future.