Festo is Showing the Way to a Bionic Future


Festo is a renowned manufacturer of pneumatic and electronic systems used in industrial environments and applications of all kinds. The German company is one of the leaders in the development of innovative industrial and manufacturing solutions, demonstrating pioneering creativity and in-depth knowledge in the field. This innovative research and development work has recently fruited a couple of interesting projects that may soon be standard parts of a modern production line.

Octopus Gripper

The Octopus Gripper is a pneumatic-mechanical tentacle that is capable of gently grasping items of spherical and cylindrical shapes and hand them over to people, other robots, or place them into position. The amazing thing is that its operation is based on precisely tuned pneumatic action that allows it to move the items that it is holding with enough grace to be useful in a wide range of applications. Because all is achieved through the utilization of negatively pressurized air combined with suction cups, the tentacle body and parts are all soft, so it is perfectly safe to be used in human-robot collaboration scenarios.

Bionic Cobot

Stepping into something that is closer to the human anatomy, Festo’s Bionic Cobot is a programmable lightweight robot that features similar movement precision with the Octopus Gripper. With three axles on the shoulder point, and seven joints implemented along the robotic arm, the Bionic Cobot is capable of gentle human-robot interaction as well as heavy lifting or pressing when needed. Using an open source programming tool, an engineer can program the Bionic Cobot to perform a series of sequential movements and relieve human workers from having to perform repeated and monotonous actions that can cause injuries on our tendons or fatigue specific groups of muscles.

Free Motion Handling

This one is a large bubble that can fly around autonomously, picking up small items and delivering them to where they are needed. This one may look like a limited use novelty, but it actual can help in scenarios such as delivering items from the ground floor to a higher floor quickly, or reach to people who work in remote or simply hard to reach areas. The core sphere is filled with helium so it is easier to lift up items of small size, and since the whole flying robot is soft it can’t harm a human in any way so it’s safe to interact with, in a workplace environment.

eMotion Butterflies

This last one is maybe the one with the least practical usability, but it is a perfect example of Festo’s high levels of know-how and expertise when it comes to pneumatic systems and fluid mechanics in general. The eMotion Butterflies are basically robotic insects that can fly around in an indoors environment by mimicking the way real butterflies fly. Utilizing a GPS and a set of infrared cameras, these butterflies can achieve coordinated flight as a pack. Maybe these can be used to monitor workplaces or even help human workers psychology. They are really a fascinating spectacle for sure.

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I’m an engineer with a passion for writing about new technologies and the ways they shape our world and amplify our very existence.