Festo, a German company dedicated to automation and robotics, has presented the latest of its inventions. It’s about BionicSwift, an impressive robot bird that moves its wings like a real one. Although even more interesting is the stunts he does in the air to gain speed by dropping, exactly like a real bird.
It is not the first bird from Festo, that honour is for SmartBird that was introduced in 2011. But during these nine years many things have changed and great advances in technology and robotics, in particular, have taken place. BionicSwift has some extremely light foam wings so that the final weight of the bird is only 42 grams.
The bird has a motor to move the wings and tail and two extra little ones to move the direction of the feathers. Just like a real bird, when the wings move downward they form a flat, closed surface to exert force in the air, while when they go back up the “feathers” open to let the air pass and generate less resistance. The result is surprising movements much more organic than the rigid movements of a normal, ordinary robot.
Apart from this, it is interesting how the bird rises to high surfaces and from there drops down to pick up speed and plan. All this autonomously thanks to an integrated GPS that allows you to geo-position within buildings. With this positioning, he also manages to fly in a group with other BionicSwift nearby without colliding.
The negative part? Probably its autonomy. In such a small size and to maintain 42 grams there are not many options to add large batteries. The BionicSwift can fly continuously for 7 minutes. Few actual utilities, although to demonstrate “bionic” wing flight capabilities it is certainly impressive.
The other creatures of Festus
For years Festo has designed numerous robots inspired by real animals. Beyond simple experiments, they serve to study new automation techniques in robotics. Let’s look at some of the artefacts they have developed:
One of the first robots they created was the BionicOpter, inspired by dragonflies:
But not everything is air, a decade ago they created a species of shark that swam underwater moving its entire spine:
Going back to the flying animals, they recently introduced eMotionButterflies, which as its name suggests, is about a butterfly:
Special mention also for BionicFlyingFox, a robot bat, where its upside-down launch stands out especially:
Two years ago they presented a robot spider that can be quite terrifying for the movements it performs:
For creating robots inspired by animals, they managed to make even a robot kangaroo:
Although undoubtedly the strangest is Velox and BionicFinWave, difficult to describe: