The world of robotics never ceases to amaze, and things got a little more amazing thanks to three new products by robotics firm Festo. In what they call the “Bionic Learning Network,” they’ve debuted three new robots inspired by nature: BionicANTs, eMotionButterflies and the FlexShapeGripper, which grips things the way a chameleon’s tongue would.
In terms of optics, the eMotionButterflies are probably the most impressive. They look and act much like butterflies, and fly in a similar manner. The robots are monitored by cameras throughout the facility, which key in on their infrared markings. Perhaps most impressive is their efficiency – the “bodies” of the butterflies contain the power source and navigation equipment in an incredibly small space, which enables their natural flight patterns. With their ability to fly in formation and communicate with a central computer, the eMotionButterflies could have a place in futuristic factories as a means of keeping tabs on production without interference.
The BionicANTs also act much like their namesake. Also using incredibly small robotics, the ants are able to communicate with one another in order to follow pre-set rules. They can carry objects much larger than themselves, for instance, without bumping into each other. When power gets low, the ants are able to move information to a powered railing, which they touch their “antennae” to in order to recharge.
The FlexShapeGripper grabs objects in much the same way as a chameleon’s tongue, securing insects by enveloping them. The unique gripping motion gives the FlexShapeGripper an incredible amount of dexterity – it can grab objects large and small, and can even pick up multiple objects in a single gripping motion. It’s soft surface may prove to be a boon for manufacturing, as it will be able to grip delicate objects without damaging them.
Festo describes its Bionic Learning Network as a cooperation between Festo and renowned universities, institutes and development companies, principles from nature provide inspiration for technical applications and industrial practice.