The German robotics company, Festo, is up to its impressive tricks again, making robots that are modelled on real-life insects and animals. Festo has quite a penchant for animal-like robots, and its latest creations include BionicAnts which move like ants and can operate as a hive-minded group, eMotion butterflies which can flutter and fly, and the FlexShapeGripper which can pick up objects like a chameleon’s tongue. These newest little bots join Festo’s previous creations such as the BionicOpter robotic dragonfly and the pneumatically powered BionicKangaroo.
Festo created BionicANTS to exhibit cooperative behavior just like armies of actual ants. The BionicANTS work together to solve a common task, such as picking up something and moving it to a desired destination. These little bots are billed as being able to independently make decisions through complex programming.
BionicANTS may look like ants, but at 5.3 inches long, they are much bigger. Each part of their delicate anatomy houses different hardware. Wireless chargers make up their antennae, cameras constitute their heads, and optical sensors are inlaid in their abdomen.
eMotionButterflies don’t just fly like genuine butterflies, they can manuever along pre-programmed paths inside special areas equipped with infrared cameras. The infrared cameras allow them to navigate their fluttering around without bumping into each other.
The last robotic project utilizes a reptilian trait without actually resembling a reptile. The FlexShapeGripper is a device that can pick up objects similarly to a chameleon’s tongue. It’s designed to be attached to a robotic arm and has a suction cap that can pick up objects without damaging them. Flat, smooth objects have been tricky for robots to grip, but the FlexShapeGripper can lift cards and smartphones easily.