You might think that the German robotics company Festo has done nothing but combine amazing prototype robots built to resemble kangaroos, jellyfish and other creatures. Of course they make real industrial robots, but it’s no surprise to see their biomimetic experiments; Case in point, feathered bionic swift and irrelevant bionic mobile assistant motile arm.
Festo already has a flying bird robot – I wrote about it about 10 years ago. They also made a flying bat as a follow-up. But the Bionic Swift is more impressive than the two because it flies using artificial feathers, in an attempt to more closely resemble its avian impulse.
Image Credits: Festo
“Personal lamellae [i.e. Feathers] are made of ultralight, comfortable but very strong foam, and overlap like shingles. Integrated with carbon quill, they are attached to the actual hand and arm wings as in the natural model, ”Festo wrote in its description of the robot.
The pronounced lamellae allows the wing to act like a bird, forming a powerful scoop in the downstroke to push against the wind, but in the upstroke to produce less resistance. Everything is controlled on-board, including an indoor positioning system built into the bird for display. The herds of bionic swifts can travel close together and avoid each other using an ultra wideband setup.
Festo’s Bionic Mobile Assistant makes it seem more practical, and in a way it isn’t much. The robot is basically the arm that radiates from the base of the wheel – or ballad. The spherical foot is driven by three “omniwheels” that allow it to move easily in any direction while minimizing its footsteps.
The display of hand-held robotic gripper design, all kinds of art tech out there – but the result is less than the sum of its parts. What makes the robotic arm better these days is the massive mobility for a hundred sensors and its thumb in the palm and fingers, but the intelligence of what it is holding. An unadorned pincer may be a better “hand” than the original thing due to a backup software.
The spherical motion strategy does something for an unstable base. It says that the robot carries scarves and not food or parts plates.
Of course, criticizing such a machine is silly, and it is practically aspirational. But it must be understood that these fascinating creations from Festo are more indicative of anything in the future.