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!

Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Deals

Amazon drops prices on Roomba robot vacuums by up to $150

Amazon is offering discounts on iRobot Roombas and other robot vacuums to help you get a leg-up on those chores. We've rounded up the best deals available now and put them all in one place.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.