The German electric automation company Festo (remember? We followed it the first steps 4 years ago) has always pushed the development of “animalistic” robots to the maximum. In the past it has sported robotic ant, kangaroo, penguin and more. Now the company's engineers have revealed the latest developments, fantastic looking robot birds.
Each of the BionicSwift, the five robot birds developed by the Bionic Learning Network of Festo, has very respectable data. First of all, a wingspan of 68 cm, a body length of 44,5 cm and a weight of 42 g. Inside the body, Festo has packed the wing movement mechanism and the control, radio and location technology components. There is also room for a brushless electric motor, two servomotors, a battery and other minute components.
How the BionicSwift flight works
For the imposing wings, the single lamellae that constitute them are connected to carbon “feathers”. In turn these are attached to the wing structure in a similar way to what can be found in real birds. When the wings are lowered, the slats close in a row to lift the robotic bird, but they open wide on the way up to allow air to pass through. This reduces the effort required to raise the wings. And all of this contributes to giving BionicSwift a much better flight profile than previous robot bird models, according to Festo.
Each of the robotic birds has a radio indicator that sends GPS signals so that its exact position can be tracked by a computer that acts as a navigation system to set up pre-programmed routes.
This allows for precision flight that prevents robotic birds from colliding with each other or against anything else, and if a flight path is interrupted by things like wind or heat, birds are able to make autonomous corrections, even if the path in front is obscured by an obstacle.
As usual for Festo demonstrations, the engineers have in mind a practical real-world application when developing prototypes, and in this case the aim was to show a camera-free 3D indoor navigation system that could find use. in the automated factory of the future. Take a look at this video, it deserves.