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Festo creates robotic insects behaves like real

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German automation company Festo has announced its newest
animal-inspired robots. Last year it was a kangaroo, and before that, a
seagull, dragonfly, and floating air jellies. For 2015, Festo is
introducing two new insectoid robots: cooperative ants and swarming
butterflies. 

The theme of Festo’s “Bionic Learning Network” program this year
is “Join the Network,” and their flagship projects are both based around
swarms of small robots that mimic the way insects work together and
interact with each other. 
They have created futuristic-looking bionic
ants, realistic robotic butterflies and a silicone gripper based on
chameleon’s tongue. Like real ants, the 3D printed BionicANTs (the
latter meaning Autonomous Networking Technologies) can cooperate in
small groups to move bigger objects, though they’re much, much larger at
5.3 inches in length. 
They have cameras on their heads, optical sensors
on their bellies that enable infrared navigation, and antennae that
function as wireless chargers. Those circuits running outside their
bodies are functional. The BionicAnts follow sets of simple rules and
can operate autonomously. They can also work together to complete large
scale, complex tasks.  

The eMotionButterflies, on the other hand, are robotic
Lepidopterans that can fly pre-programmed routes inside spaces mounted
with infrared cameras that serve as their GPS system. They are
absolutely stunning to look at. Similar to BionicANTs, they have
infrared sensors to avoid bumping into one another. 
They’re also
equipped with motors, along with other components, that allow them to
flap their wings like real ones do. They have a 20 inch wingspan and can
fly for 2.5 meters per second for three to four minutes before they
need to be recharged. According to Festo, “as the wings slightly
overlap, an air gap is created between them when they beat, which gives
the butterflies their special aerodynamics.”

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Lastly, the FlexShapeGripper (a joint project with the University
of Oslo) is a silicone cap attached to a robotic arm that mimics the
movements of a chameleon’s tongue. That cap acts as a suction that picks
up objects, even flat ones like cards and phone. Festo will showcase
all three machines at the Hannover Mess trade show in Germany in May
2015.
 Unfortunately, playing with one of these robots will not be
possible, as they’re only intended to “develop technical concepts and
industrial applications based on models from nature.”

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