Three mechatronics developments based on bionics

Festo is fully aware that nature is a valuable source of inspiration for new technological developments. The controls and automation manufacturer is presenting three bionic innovations at the Hannover Messe (13-17 April).

BionicANTs are highly integrated, individual systems deployed for carrying out shared tasks.  They deploy cooperative behaviour based on that found in nature. It proves that individual entities can interact with each other while remaining flexible. Individual ants can make autonomous decisions, but these decisions always remain subordinate to the common objectives of the group. Each BionicANT has 18 actuators, which are piezo-ceramic flexible converters that control the six legs and also the grippers at the front of the head. A 3D camera in the head identifies the objects to be gripped and provides self-localisation. The technology is extremely precise and rapid, as well as energy efficient and durable. 

eMotionButterflies look like butterflies and are actually ultra light, flying objects capable of flying around without crashing into each other. They are nimble and remain under full control. The on-board electronics ensure that the wings are activated and controlled very precisely. An indoor GPS system with infra-red camera is deployed, complete with radio and sensor technology. Human pilots are not needed. The butterflies can also be flown in groups. They offer the potential basis for developments in guidance and monitoring systems in factories of the future. 

FlexShapeGrippers are gently gripping actuators suitable for a range of tasks. The developers derived their inspiration for this from the tongue of the chameleon. The actuators can pick up, collect and place several articles of differing sizes and shapes simultaneously. No energy is consumed while the objects are gripped. It uses a water filled silicon cap that flexibly envelops and takes on the shape of the objects. Gripping and releasing are carried out pneumatically.