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Videos: Bionic insects and animals made by this robotics firm marvellously resemble the real ones

From flying foxes to kangaroos, from dragonflies to butterflies, from spiders to ants.

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An automation company in Germany called Festo has been creating a series of rather unusual bionic insects and animals over the past few years. We don’t know if they’re useful yet, but they’re certainly a treat for the eye (videos above and below).

The robotic creatures have been coming from Festo’s Bionic Learning Network, which is a cross-disciplinary research group of scientists and engineers who explore concepts that may help shape manufacturing in the future – biomimetics, in other words. Part of that work has resulted in creatures including, but not limited to, bionic ants, butterflies, kangaroos, birds, dragonflies, spiders and flying foxes.

The bio-inspired robots are startlingly similar to their real-life inspirations. The newest bionic creatures to join the already brimming zoo of bionic creatures is the Bionic Flying Fox (video above) and the Bionic Wheel Bot, which happens to be a spider.

The Bionic flying fox is perhaps the most visually impressive of the lot, though the butterflies and dragonfly are eye-catching too. Almost incredibly, it mimics the characteristics of flying foxes particularly well.

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Equally impressive – and somewhat terrifying – is the new spider-inspired Bionic WheelBot (video above), which may look questionable at first glance, but is based on a real spider that lives in the Sahara desert. The flic-flac spider which inspired the bot does somersaults to escape predators. The arachnid robot comes with eight legs controlled by 15 motors in the knee joints and body and, of course, an integrated inertial sensor to help it know its position.

Now, for the rest of the bionic zoo – which doesn’t exist but we hope can become a reality soon – you can watch videos of most of the dynamic collection of bionic creatures, below or on the YouTube Channel. And if it reminds you of Black Mirror’s episode from Season 3 (Hated in the Nation), we’re not sorry.

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What are racers made of?

Grit, strength and oodles of fearlessness.

Sportspersons are known for their superhuman discipline, single-minded determination and the will to overcome all obstacles. Biographies, films and documentaries have brought to the fore the behind-the-scenes reality of the sporting life. Being up at the crack of dawn, training without distraction, facing injuries with a brave face and recovering to fight for victory are scenes commonly associated with sportspersons.

Racers are no different. Behind their daredevilry lies the same history of dedication and discipline. Cornering on a sports bike or revving up sand dunes requires the utmost physical endurance, and racers invest heavily in it. It helps stave off fatigue and maintain alertness and reaction time. It also helps them get the most out of their racecraft - the entirety of a racer’s skill set, to which years of training are dedicated.

Racecraft begins with something as ‘simple’ as sitting on a racing bike; the correct stance is the key to control and manoeuvre the bike. Riding on a track – tarmac or dirt is a great deal different from riding on the streets. A momentary lapse of concentration can throw the rider into a career ending crash.

Physical skill and endurance apart, racers approach a race with the same analytical rigour as a student appearing in an exam. They conduct an extensive study of not just the track, but also everything around it - trees, marshal posts, tyre marks etc. It’s these reference points that help the racer make braking or turning decisions in the frenzy of a high-stakes competition.

The inevitability of a crash is a reality every racer lives with, and seeks to internalise this during their training. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, racers are trained to keep their eyes open to help the brain make crucial decisions to avoid collision with other racers or objects on the track. Racers that meet with accidents can be seen sliding across the track with their heads held up, in a bid to minimise injuries to the head.

But racecraft is, of course, only half the story. Racing as a profession continues to confound many, and racers have been traditionally misunderstood. Why would anyone want to pour their blood, sweat and tears into something so risky? Where do racers get the fearlessness to do laps at mind boggling speed or hurtle down a hill unassisted? What about the impact of high speeds on the body day after day, or the monotony of it all? Most importantly, why do racers race? The video below explores the question.

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The video features racing champions from the stable of TVS Racing, the racing arm of TVS Motor Company, which recently completed 35 years of competitive racing in India. TVS Racing has competed in international rallies and races across some of the toughest terrains - Dakar, Desert Storm, India Baja, Merzouga Rally - and in innumerable national championships. Its design and engineering inputs over the years have also influenced TVS Motors’ fleet in India. You can read more about TVS Racing here.

This article has been produced by Scroll Brand Studio on behalf of TVS Racing and not by the Scroll editorial team.