Nice video, Ann. Another great example of borrowing from nature. That approach seems to be everywhere these days. But I'll ask the same question my daughter asked when I showed her the video: what do thay use it for?
Festo does a lot of future-oriented expensive R&D, so right now the answer is probably they don't use it for anything. The R&D done under Festo's Bionic Learning Network, like practically all its other research, is done to develop new technologies for automation. There wasn't a lot of detail on applications for this robot, but the brochure at this link http://www.festo.com/net/SupportPortal/Files/248133/Festo_BionicOpter_en.pdf contains some rather vague language that implies they envision a future networked, decentralized factory where: "Individual workpieces will themselves determine what functions they need plants to provide. This digital refinement will give rise to increasingly intelligent products that can actively support the production process thanks to increased functionality – from energy autonomy through to condition monitoring – in the smallest of installation spaces." In other words, way more robots/automated systems with much greater independent functioning.
As a professional machine designer/builder in the world of automation, I have been familiar with Festo for years. They are well known for their pneumatic components, German engineering, and quality. This is an impressive display of minaturization and servo control. Festo could step into the stepper or servo motor/control market with this. The obvious application for this is as a radio controlled toy. Four channel helicopters with radio transmitter, battery, charger and airframe sell for $128 which are durable and have spare parts at reasonable prices. If Festo could retail these for say under $250 ready to fly, I suspect they could sell like hotcakes...
@Ann, thanks for post. Kudos to Festo for creating this little robotic dragonfly. This just shows that there are many things we can learn from nature. Its not an easy task to mimic the energy-efficient principles already found in nature and Festo has done a pretty good job of implementing such solutions in its products.
Yes, that is a super-cool robot. And the video is actually quite beautiful. I like when science and art combine to create something technologically innovative but also creative. It seems like robot design, as it gets more sophisticated, is moving away from utilitarian design to something that is more artful.
This dragonfly is an amazing piece of technology, not only because of the very cool flying robot end-product but also because of the innovative melding of technologies and materials.
To address Rob's question, bluntly but not rudely, who cares what they are going to use it for? Kudos to Festo for pursuing the projects they have undertaken - they are expanding the possibilities and our imaginations. And if they have no end use in mind before development started, they deserve even more credit.
Corporate America has become so focused on return on investment and the bottom line that it is holding money back from pure research for curiosity's sake. Sometimes one should pursue curiosity, pursue the "what if..." just because the challenge is there. There is rarely a lack of practical applications that can be imagined or developed after the fact.
I've watched the video 5 times and still wonder how does the thing actually fly? And how did Festo figure out the wing movement to accomplish it?
And in line with Elizabeth's comment, I have forwarded this link to a lot of my non-engineering, non-mechanical friends because they will appreciate it not for the engineering, but for its beauty, its unexpectedness and its artfulness.
Applied Research Associates has delivered several of its Pointman Tactical Robots to the CBP in Tucson, which the agency is using to explore drainage tunnels that run between Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Mexico. These tunnels are out of sight from border surveillance and are increasingly being used for illegal activity.