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Bionic penguins mimic real life movement
Festo's Bionic Learning Network has developed two colonies of bionic penguins that demonstrate collective behaviour. This type of behaviour - which psychologists also call crowd behaviour - refers to social processes that emerge in a spontaneous manner when members of a group interact. In robotic terms, each penguin is an autonomous self-regulating unit that is free to explore its defined environment using complex built-in navigation and communication facilities, and is capable of modifying its behaviour in the presence of others, to fulfil a group purpose.
Festo believes that autonomous, self-regulating processes are likely to become increasingly significant in automated production systems of the future. An example of this technology could be the organisation of highly flexible, autonomous robots within a pull-through production environment.
The transfer flow, from research to practical everyday use, is already apparent: the penguins use the highly innovative 3D Fin Ray Effect structure - co-developed with the specialist bionics company EvoLogics GmbH - to create very lifelike movement of their heads and tails. The 3D Fin Ray Effect structure is based on two flexible bands which meet at their tips to form a triangle, with interconnecting links spaced at regular intervals. Festo has incorporated this structure in an adaptive gripping device known as the FinGripper, manufactured from polyamide powder using a selective laser sintering process, which weighs just 10% of its equivalent metal counterpart and is capable of moving pressure-sensitive work-pieces of varying shapes and sizes very efficiently. To further demonstrate the potential benefits of this technology, Festo has taken its kinematic tripod robot solution and developed a dynamic display called BionicTripod, which integrates the gripper with an innovative 3-axis positioning system.
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