We sure love nature-inspired robots a whole lot, and German automation company Festo is one of the most exciting companies working in this space. Its latest creations are two of its greatest yet: A BionicWheelBot robotic spider that resembles a Star Wars battle droid and a BionicFlyingFox which is, well, pretty much what its name suggests.
The BionicWheelbot was inspired by the flic-flac spider and its highly unusual way of moving, which includes a combination of walking, somersaulting and rolling on the ground. When it’s not busy scampering, the robot — which is powered by 15 motors — begins its rolling action by bending three legs on each side of its body to form a wheel. Two additional legs then extend, pushing the rolled-up spider off the ground, and forward. Doing so allows it to move over rougher ground at high speeds, even including uphill slopes.
The BionicFlyingFox, meanwhile, is a 580g creation with a 3D-milled foam body, carbon fiber skeleton, and 228cm wingspan — comprised of a wafer-thin, ultralight membrane material. The robot doesn’t just look like a real actual flying fox (aka a fruit bat), but can actually fly by flapping its wings in a realistic approximation of the genuine article. It’s launched via remote control but can then carry out its actual flight using an autopilot system — aided by infrared cameras built into its legs and wing tips.
Sadly, you won’t be able to buy either robot anytime soon. “Both projects are tech demos so there won’t be a real-world application for them — maybe a bit similar to concept cars in the automotive industry,” Dr. Elias Knubben, head of corporate bionic projects at Festo, told Digital Trends. “Nevertheless we’re trying to transfer the knowledge gained in the development of the bionic projects on product-related topics like energy efficiency and lightweight construction, so we can offer more efficient products and solutions to our partners and customers.”
Ultimately, Knubben said that the goal is to show off the company’s technology — and hopefully to inspire kids about the possibilities offered by science and technology in the process. We have to admit that that is a pretty good rationale for creating these critters!
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