Many companies around the world are fascinated with natural selection, because there is no wider range of inspiration for technology than the nature itself. Machines, robots and software are being designed with a strong background in biological elements. It is not coincidence that terms like mouse, virus or bug are common in the thecnological field.
Festo is a german company whose main goal is to design and build actuators for the automation industry. They are one of the biggest in this field. However, the german engineering is challenging through Festo again, and the innovation lovers in the company created the Festo Bionic Lab, where they have a complete freedom to experiment with their creativity. What have they done? A field entirely made of biological immitation. Their creations may deceive your eyes at first sight, but oh boy! They have nailed it. Let’s check their main robots (my favorites), just for you to have an idea what I’m talking about…
The Airacuda was the first project, released in 2006, and the big challenge was to create a system that could really be an underwater robot, behaving and moving as a real fish. It still seems quite “robotic” with no emphasis in its out-looks, but the engineering behind such an underwater systems has been a true innovation copying the fish.
And then came Aqua ray, the second biggest underwater project, where these guys wanted to get a double for a ray… and they did it!
The Aquajelly is one of the small ones and its main innovation was the communication between each other, which allowed them to organize and coordinate in real-time.
But let’s talk about penguins. Those little buddies have been walking funny everywhere, but what about swimming? Well, you can watch these robotic creations named Aquapenguin and amaze yourself.
But the biggest challenge with the AirArm: a human. Indeed, this project based in a human arm is the result of a very extense research that gives us the opportunity of getting closer to the human behavior. Just have a look at the fluency in the movements.
But the SmartBird is what really got me. First time I saw it was in a video of a Ted talk, if I properly remember. Since then, this project has been world-wide known. It is one of the few robotic jewels, not only because of its beautiful design, but because the amazing and “simple” engineering. This design bitch-slapped many statements about mimicing birds. Some said it would not be possible, but the Fest guys hurried their development and here you have it. Da Vinci would be enourmously proud of it.
The SmartInversion might seem a bit weird. For me it seems a moth in slow motion, but it could be easily based in the movement of some bacterias and viruses. I don’t know, but this flying system is filled with Hydrogen and moves through space thanks to its well coordinated corners. I can imagine the enourmous amount of control needed in such a fragile system pron to errors against any change in the air current.
And last but not least is the BionicOpter, whose inspiration came from the Dragonflies. I might say that it is one of the most revolutionary designs, being small, totally functional and pretty stable. Besides, its design is very catchy.
Oh Festo! what are you going to do next?