Robots Imitate Life

Posted on Jun 3 2008 - 4:40pm by Richard Sharp

Festo Aqua RayAs well as letting you see a number of the eco gadgets we’ve recently highlighted, the Gadget Show on channel 5 last night reported from an incredible company called Festo. Ordinarily, they produce manufacturing machinery used in factories and on production lines around the world. However, they also have a certain penchant for creating robots that mimic natural movement.

The Bionic Learning Network showcases some of the finest looking robots conceived. The Aqua Jelly, a robotic and intelligent jellyfish, is perhaps the most impressive of them all. The Air Jelly is a similar design but is a remote controlled flying version. Airic’s Arm is a complex mimic of a human arm using 30 muscles to mirror human movements.

The Aqua Ray pictured here is an incredibly lifelike manta ray that looks and moves alarmingly like the real thing. Again, Festo has created a helium filled version that is remote controlled and uses the same drive principles but in a completely different environment.

The robots that Festo makes aren’t designed simply to look good, though look good they most certainly do. By considering natural movement, Festo hopes to improve the methods used to drive automated robots but it also hopes to improve the symbiotic relationship in production machines. Again, we turn to the Aqua Jelly, which uses numerous sensors to determine the direction it needs to move to avoid others.

Clearly, the Aqua Jelly isn’t likely to have a genuine place in production, but future robots and manufacturing machines could well use many of the innovations led by Festo’s Bionic Learning Network and it would look in an aquarium in a particularly futuristic Take Away.

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