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Festo - biomimic robotics and innovation
by IKE 19-Apr-2010 23:05

Festo is a gigantic industrial control and automation company that in the last few years have impressed the world with its bionic network robots. These robots have many forms, some mimic the shape and movement of animals (like AirPenguin and AquaPenguin, read below) and other more abstract and modular like the molecubes modular robotic system pictured above. What makes Festo's robots distinctive is that they are very attractive entities aesthetically and functionally with a grace in movement usually absent in most robotic applications. They are designed as final products or advanced promotional items and although they are very advanced they don't share the semi-finished mess that characterizes the appearance of most research robots.---

The most famous Festo robot is the AirPenguin. It is a Helium blimp that moves by flapping its small wings via small actuators that control its movement and rotation in all axes. In total there are 9 actuators controlled by a complex navigation and stabilization system that also uses ultrasound sensors. Xbee wireless modems are used to link it to a ground station and exchange data.

AirPenguins can fly autonomously and in groups, avoiding collision to obstacles as well as with each other. Its movement is inspired by the underwater swimming of Penguins and apart from this airborne version there is also the AquaPenguin, a similar in concept underwater autonomous robot:

Festo has already presented a very diverse portfolio of robots, inspired by biology (robotic jellyfish for example) or not. Its applications could be huge and already the parts and subsystems that they use are becoming commercially available.

You can find more information on Festo website in the Bionic Learning network section.

The very impressive videos (impressive enough to go viral) in the official Youtube channel, for example the AirPenguin demo

If you want to know more you can listen the robotspodcast interview with Markus Fischer, the head of Bionic Learning Network project at FESTO here: http://www.robotspodcast.com

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