How nature can inspire engineers - Bionics by FESTO
Oct. 20, 2015
Many engineers know FESTO as a supplier of high quality technical parts like hoses and electric motors. But they developed themselves from a simple supplier to a system supplier with knowledge in all kind of (high-tech) industries. One of their research area is bionics.
Bionics is the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology. FESTO has already started their R&D into Bionics since the early 90’s. They started with researching how animals move through water. Examples of projects from that time are the AquaPenguins, AirJelly, Aqua_ray and Airacuda.
Later on FESTO continued their research more to flying animals. The Smart Bird was one of the best known from that period. For the SmartBird, Festo was inspired by the herring gull. The ultralight flying model impresses with its outstanding aerodynamics and maximum agility and is able to take off, fly and land without an additional drive.
in 2013 presented the BionicOpter. A lightweight construction with a highly complex flight characteristics of the dragonfly. Just like its model in nature, this ultralight flying object can fly in all directions, hover in mid-air and glide without beating its wings.
In line with the research of the BionicOpter was the eMotionButterflies. This is a combination of ultralight construction of artificial insects with coordinated flying behaviour in a collective. They can fly thanks to indoor GPS with infrared cameras. Ten cameras installed in the room record the butterflies using their infrared markers. The cameras transmit the position data to a central master computer, which coordinates the butterflies from outside. The intelligent networking system creates a guidance and monitoring system, which could be used in the networked factory of the future.
The latest project in the field of cooperative behaviour based on natural model are the BionicANTs. For the BionicANTs, Festo has not only taken the delicate anatomy of the natural ant as a role model. For the first time, the cooperative behaviour of the creatures is also transferred to the world of technology using complex control algorithms. Like their natural role models, the BionicANTs work together under clear rules. They communicate with each other and coordinate their actions and movements among each other. The artificial ants thus demonstrate how autonomous individual components can solve a complex task together working as an overall networked system.