Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Festo BionicOpter creates buzz at Beakerhead


September 22, 2015
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Sept. 22, 2015 – Festo demonstrated how nature provides inspiration to kick-start innovation and creates the automation technology of the future at this year’s Beakerhead, which partnered with the University of Calgary and the Schulich School of Engineering. Presentations of Festo’s Bionic Learning Network and the BionicOpter took place from September 16 – 20 at the University of Calgary, during Beakernight and various school programs as well as at the Calgary Zoo.

Beakerhead is a citywide, interactive movement that brings together the arts and engineering sectors to build and exhibit works of art and science during an annual weeklong happening each fall.


Photos © Festo
As a global manufacturer of pneumatic and electric automation technology, Festo says its core business is to “shape the production and working environments of the future by offering its customers innovative solutions for the production systems of tomorrow and beyond.”

The Bionic Learning Network is a network linking Festo to well-known universities, institutes and development companies. Its objective is to transfer biological principles to industrial automation technology and to provide innovative solutions for industrial applications through biomimicry.

“As technological leader and a learning company, the objectives of the Bionic Learning Network go well beyond developing new technologies; to motivate, inspire and enthuse and to kick-start innovation,” said Thomas Lichtenberger, general manager of Festo. “With our bionic projects, we demonstrate the solution expertise of Festo in a way that will inspire young people to take an interest in technology and help us to discover new talent.”

The BionicOpter’s natural model, the dragonfly, is able to manoeuver in all directions, glide without beating its wings and hover in the air. Its ability to move its two pairs of wings independently enables it to slow down and turn abruptly, to accelerate swiftly and even to fly backwards. With the BionicOpter, Festo says it has applied these highly complex characteristics to an ultra-lightweight flying object at a technical level. For the first time, there is a model that can master the flight conditions of a helicopter, plane and glider combined. This bionic integrates several functions into small spaces, reliability through condition monitoring and real-time communication and thus provides inspiration for Festo’s integrated automation concept.