Fly a little higher, my little friend!
With its artificial bird "BionicSwift", Festo is continuing a long tradition of bionic flying objects. The research vehicle is used to gain new insights into the use of materials, energy consumption and space economy.7 May 2022
Festo is an independent family-owned company from Esslingen am Neckar, which can call itself a global player with a clear conscience. The central pillar of the Swabian company is pneumatic and electric automation technology, as demonstrated by around 300,000 factory and process automation customers in more than 35 industries worldwide. In addition to pneumatic and electric automation technology, the LifeTech segment with medical technology and laboratory automation is becoming increasingly important. And around eight percent of sales (2.84 billion euros in 2020) flow into research and development every year. There, in turn, a particularly exciting and promising area of research has been devoted for some time - bionics. In Festo's "Bionic Learning Network", in particular, flying based on natural models has a long tradition, which is now finding an impressive continuation at HANNOVER MESSE 2022.
In developing the artificial bird "BionicSwift", the focus was on using special lightweight structures, just like its biological model. In technology as in nature, the lower the weight to be moved, the lower the material requirements and energy consumption. And the key figures of the "BionicSwift" are indeed impressive: With a body length of 44.5 centimeters and a wingspan of 68 centimeters, the bird weighs just 42 grams. This not only makes it particularly efficient, but also very agile and maneuverable; even tight turns and loops are no problem. In order to be able to fly its maneuvers as lifelike as possible, the wings, or rather their individual slats, are modeled on the plumage of birds. They are made of an ultra-light, flexible but very robust foam material and lie on top of each other like shingles. Connected by a carbon "quill", they are attached to the actual hand and arm wings, just like the natural model. By intelligently networking the flying object and GPS data, the developers have also created a 3D navigation system of the kind that could be used in networked factories in the future. The precise localization of material and goods flows could, for example, improve process flows and anticipate bottlenecks. In addition, autonomous flying robots could be used for material transport, for example, and thus optimize the use of space within a factory with their previously unused flight corridors.
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