For a couple of years the German company FESTO which is a world leader in providing automatization technologies has initiated a program of cooperation with the world of sciences and research. Actually, this program which is called Bionic Learning Network has been organized in a systematic fashion involving some of the most renown research centers, universities and Research & Development associations from all around the world. The goal of this network is to understand principles governing nature and based on the found principles to develop concepts, prototypes and new ideas and to transfer these into technological and industrial applications.
The objectives decleared in this program are:
- Analyzing the needs of the market in a strict dialog with the client
- Trasfering the efficient strategies typically found in nature into automatization technologies
- Identifying new products and new product ideas
- Experimenting with new technologies and new production processes
- Developing products of elevated energetic and biomechanic efficiency
One of the most recent of the many fascinating projects put forward by FESTO is the so called SmartBird. It deals with a real “gull robot” being able to take off, to fly and to land independently mimicking the wings’ beating and all other movements typical for a bird. It is an ultralight model aircraft (its weight is below half a kilogram) characterized by excellent aerodynamic properties and a high agility. Its two wings do not only move up and down as the ones of a bird, but based on an “active articulated torsional drive unit” and a complex control system the wings can even incline. These aspects allow SmartBird to obtain a flying efficiency which have never been reached before.Festo claims that the functional integration of coupled drives has led Festo to develop new ideas and to acquire new knowledge (even with respect to fluid dynamics) which could be transferred to the development and the optimization of hybrid drive technology.
Italian Version: Festo lancia SmartBird, il “gabbiano robot”