Latest Festo creations include a bionic bat and somersaulting robo-spider

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!

Gaming

‘Overwatch’ gunslinger Ashe is now available on all platforms

Blizzard announced Ashe as the latest Overwatch hero at BlizzCon 2018. The gunslinger has a history with McCree and makes use of a lever-action repeating rifle and a robotic sidekick.
Emerging Tech

Bottle-flipping robots may be the most millennial thing we’ve ever seen

Until drones start vaping, you're unlikely to see anything more millennial than a recent contest in Japan in which robots competed to pull off some seriously impressive bottle-flipping feats.
Emerging Tech

Shipping crate filled with 3D-printing robots may be the future of construction

Autodesk has created a robot-filled shipping container which may represent the future of construction work. The crate contains two robots able to 3D print custom components for building sites.
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Emerging Tech

These Alexa-stuffed retro phones don’t listen until you take them off the hook

Looking for an Amazon Echo with a cool vintage touch? Los Angeles-based Grain Design is taking old, non-working antique phones and transforming them into amazing Alexa smart speakers.
Smart Home

This alarm clock uses targeted light and sound to wake you, but not your partner

The Wake v2 isn't like your typical bedside alarm. Instead, it wakes you by shining a soft light directly into your face, thereby not disturbing the person sharing a bed with you. Pretty smart, huh?
Emerging Tech

Believe it or not, this fire-proof exoskeleton isn’t designed for space marines

A company called Levitate Technologies has developed a fire-resistant upper body exoskeleton that’s capable of lowering exertion levels by up to 80 percent when you carry out manual work.
Emerging Tech

Intel’s new ‘neural network on a stick’ aims to unchain A.I. from the internet

To kick off its first developer conference in Beijing, Intel unveiled the second generation of its Neural Compute Stick -- a device that promises to democratize the development of computer vision A.I. applications.
Emerging Tech

Frogs regrow ‘paddle-like’ limbs when placed in a bioreactor

Frogs have partially regrown amputated limbs thanks to a bioreactor at Tufts University. By jump-starting tissue repair, the bioreactor helped the amphibians regenerate a bigger, more complete appendages than they usually do.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

China says it has developed a quantum radar that can see stealth aircraft

Chinese defense giant China Electronics Technology Group Corporation claims that it has developed a quantum radar that's able to detect even the stealthiest of stealth aircraft. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Glass orb packs all the constellations in the night sky into fancy desk ornament

Ever wanted to know more about the star constellations? A stunning new Kickstarter campaign, taking the form of a fancy desk ornament that re-creates the night sky in a glass orb, aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.