In news that gives a novel spin to the term “factory farming,” automation company Festo is launching a new concept: a robotic elephant trunk known as the Bionic Handling Assistant.
You may have heard of Festo for their the automated menagerie which includes robotic penguins as well as automated rays and bionic jelly fish. The company’s Bionic Learning Network research program focuses on mechatronic and bionic concepts using nature as a model–also known as biomimicry. Inspired by the efficiency found in nature, they utilize these biological principles to design automated machines for technical and industrial applications.
The structure and functioning of the elephant-inspired Bionic Handling Assistant creates a system that can be used wherever humans need non-hazardous support from machines, like in in medical technology, rehabilitation and as an aid for the handicapped, as well as in agriculture, private homes and educational institutions. In industrial environments, the Bionic Handling Assistant can be used as a handling system to support assembly processes.
Biomimicry is nothing new. The earliest designs for airplanes were inspired by the flight of birds. Even Velcro is a product of biomimicry: its inventor was inspired by the function of burdock burrs sticking to his clothing, and set about to apply the same hook-and-loop principle to a fastener.
But bionic animals for industry? Are we going too far? Do you think it’s cool or creepy?
Watch the bionic penguins in action here: