Re applications, I find it interesting that what looks a lot like the flying robots designed for military purposes is instead a robot designed for industrial uses. These may seem like very different applications,. but they share a lot of functions--and thus features and technology--in common.
Ann, I agree with you on the potential cost of these systems which are very well done and with quality components. Some motion control companies target the theme parks and entertainment venues; this kind of technology would seem to fit into those markets (not necessarily the dragonfly) and I wouldn't be surprised if Festo has experience in that area.
Festo was new to me until recently so now I'm seeing exactly what you mean. It's sometimes hard to find designers who can execute on both technical engineering and cutting-edge design. I imagine this is a company to watch, and perhaps even that will set trends for future robotic design.
Festo's robots are developed as, to begin with, proofs-of-concept/prototypes for industrial customers, not consumers. Given the quality of components, and the sophistication of design and engineering, even if this were ever for sale to consumers in quantities of 1, I'd guess the price range would be up there with the Transformer robot we covered http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=25601 which costs $20,000. Or maybe 10x that much.
It's funny, I just talked to Festo about a motor drive product and it occurred to me that it's quite impressive that such technical-minded people could also have come up with something as creative as the dragon-fly robot. There's definitely two sides of the brain at work here.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.