Creating robots inspired by nature is the mission of the “Bionic Learning Network” laboratory of Festo, a German company.
Festo’s researchers created a swarm of ants and butterflies robots based on biomimetics. They are not the first one. Festo has also for example created SmartBird, a robot bird and a kangaroo named BionicKangaroo. With these new type of animals, Festo jumped into the collective intelligence domain.
Despite their size, still unconventional for insects, their movement and their coordination make them seem like real insects.
BionicANTs, for Autonomous Networking Technologies, are very close to their natural role model in terms of design and function. They are programmed to mimic the intelligence of their real world counterparts. According to the Festo website, the BionicANT “communicate with each other and coordinate their actions and movements. Each ant makes its decisions autonomously, but in doing so is always subordinate to the common objective and thereby plays its part towards solving the task in hand.”
These ants around the size of a human hand, use a unique production method named “3D-MID” for molded interconnect device. The legs made of 20 “trimorphic piezo-ceramic bending transducers”, facilitate their movement.
BionicANTs have stereo cameras instead of eyes giving the ability to locate and grip objects with their pincers.
Each BionicANT has 40 minutes of wireless power before requiring to be recharged. After this time, it automatically goes to its place of reloading.
These ultra-lightweight butterfly robots (only 32 grams) have elaborate miniature electronic equipment such as servomotors to power the wings, a compass and infrared cameras to fly in swarms.
The developers of this project have achieved a mixture of a lightweight design and a perfect coordination system.
The German company Festo continues to surprise us! Beyond the complex algorithms developed for the collaborative behavior of these insects, it is the manufacturing technique used that is totally innovative and unique.
Finally, the Festo Company will present its new companions on the Industrial Technology fair “Hannover Messe 2015” to be held April 13 -17, 2015 in Hanover, Germany.
Festo’s bionic bird.
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