Festo is a German robotics company promoting a number of weird and wonderful robots inspired by nature. My personal favorite is this particularly unsettling elephant trunk - brings to mind sentinels from The Matrix et al.
From Singularity Hub: "Robots are ripping off nature! …Good idea. Festo, a multinational robotics firm based in Germany, has made some of the most amazing looking and fun biologically inspired robots out there. We’ve shown you their Air-Penguins and their Elephant-Arms but there are so many other Festo creations yet to be seen. Luckily, the robotics company seems to be going through their back catalog, and they just released videos of their research efforts from 2006 to 2008. These bots may be a few years old but they are absolutely cool to watch. Check out the Air-ray, the Bionic Air-fish, the Aqua-jelly and more in the videos below. Why do I get the feeling that Festo is building the robotic equivalent of Noah’s Ark?
Nature is one of the best engineers around, so it’s no surprise that some of the smartest robot experts are looking to biology to inspire their innovations. Festo is one of the world leaders in automation, with millions of parts installed in factories all over the globe. Their animal inspired robots are created by the efforts of their Bionic Learning Network. This collection of research groups from academia and industry is part advanced research initiative, part education organization. While many of their bionic bots have practical applications, they definitely seem willing to explore far off the beaten path even if there’s not much monetary incentive. That’s totally fine by me. I love the grace with which their robots fly through the air and water, and I can’t wait to see what they copy from nature next. Hopefully they’ll stay away from the predators of the world. Sharks are bad enough, but robot sharks? That would just be asking for a robot-apocalypse.
The first video is a little long, so here’s a guide:
2:20 Bionic Air-fish
The next video recaps some things from the first. Go ahead and skip to 1:14 to check out the Aqua-jelly.
Here’s more of the Humanoid, so you can see how all of its pneumatic muscles move and work.