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.
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.