Posted in | Biomimetic Robotics

Festo Showcases BionicKangaroo at International Press Conference 2014

What can we learn from nature, and how can these insights be transferred to automation technology? At the 2014 International Press Conference in Esslingen, Festo is presenting the BionicKangaroo – a project from the Bionic Learning Network, which addresses aspects of future production.

Like its natural role model, the BionicKangaroo can recover, store and retrieve the energy efficiently on the next jump. The BionicKangaroo is controlled using gestures.

The core competence of Festo, a worldwide supplier of pneumatic and electrical automation technology, is shaping the production and working worlds of the future and is offering its customers innovative solutions for the production systems of tomorrow and the day after. “Only by this means can we be perceived in the long term as a competent partner with excellent problem-solving competence,” emphasises Dr.-Ing. Heinrich Frontzek, Head of Corporate Communication and Future Concepts. “Our task at hand is to reduce the complex challenges of production processes and to ensure that machinery and production units can be intuitively controlled. Visionary approaches are provided here by the projects from the Bionic Learning Network of Festo,” says Dr. Frontzek.

One of the latest projects is the BionicKangaroo, which addresses many aspects of future production – for example resource efficiency and energy recuperation, functional integration and human-machine interaction. A development team from Festo’s Bionic Learning Network spent two years recreating the jumping behaviour of the natural kangaroo as closely as possible and learning from it. The BionicKangaroo now demonstrates exactly what distinguishes the natural kangaroo, namely recovering and storing energy and retrieving it on the next jump.

Recovering energy during jumping
The Achilles tendon assumes an important function here, which is why it is particularly pronounced on the natural kangaroo. The function of the natural Achilles tendon is carried out with the help of an elastic band made of rubber. It is fastened at the back of the foot and parallel to a pneumatic cylinder on the knee joint. The artificial tendon cushions the jump, simultaneously absorbs the kinetic energy and releases it for the next jump.

Stable, dynamic jumping behaviour
The condition monitoring as well as the precise control technology ensure the required stability when jumping and landing. The kangaroo achieves its high jumping power with the aid of pneumatics. In the places where the highest positioning accuracy is called for, electric motors are used – for example, when it comes to controlling the tail and hip. In this way Festo uses the artificial kangaroo to show how pneumatic and electric drive technology can be combined by means of a new control generation developed by Festo to make a highly dynamic system.

Mobile energy support
Festo paid particular attention to the mobile energy supply on the artificial kangaroo. For this purpose, the team even developed two different concepts – one with an integrated compressor and one with a mobile high-pressure storage device. The movement apparatus (kinematics) is made out of laser-sintered parts reinforced with carbon. As a result, the artificial animal weighs just seven kilograms with a height of around one metre, and it can jump up to 40 centimetres high and up to a distance of 80 centimetres.

Intuitive control by gestures
The BionicKangaroo can be controlled with gestures by means of a special armband, which registers the muscular activity of the operator. A positional sensor in the armband measures the arm’s movement; the armband transmits these signals via Bluetooth to the compact control unit of the artificial kangaroo, which then enters into interaction with the operator.

The core competence of Festo, a worldwide supplier of pneumatic and electrical automation technology, is shaping the production and working worlds of the future and is offering its customers innovative solutions for the production systems of tomorrow and the day after. “Only by this means can we be perceived in the long term as a competent partner with excellent problem-solving competence,” emphasises Dr.-Ing. Heinrich Frontzek, Head of Corporate Communication and Future Concepts. “Our task at hand is to reduce the complex challenges of production processes and to ensure that machinery and production units can be intuitively controlled. Visionary approaches are provided here by the projects from the Bionic Learning Network of Festo,” says Dr. Frontzek.

One of the latest projects is the BionicKangaroo, which addresses many aspects of future production – for example resource efficiency and energy recuperation, functional integration and human-machine interaction. A development team from Festo’s Bionic Learning Network spent two years recreating the jumping behaviour of the natural kangaroo as closely as possible and learning from it. The BionicKangaroo now demonstrates exactly what distinguishes the natural kangaroo, namely recovering and storing energy and retrieving it on the next jump.

Recovering energy during jumping
The Achilles tendon assumes an important function here, which is why it is particularly pronounced on the natural kangaroo. The function of the natural Achilles tendon is carried out with the help of an elastic band made of rubber. It is fastened at the back of the foot and parallel to a pneumatic cylinder on the knee joint. The artificial tendon cushions the jump, simultaneously absorbs the kinetic energy and releases it for the next jump.

Stable, dynamic jumping behaviour
The condition monitoring as well as the precise control technology ensure the required stability when jumping and landing. The kangaroo achieves its high jumping power with the aid of pneumatics. In the places where the highest positioning accuracy is called for, electric motors are used – for example, when it comes to controlling the tail and hip. In this way Festo uses the artificial kangaroo to show how pneumatic and electric drive technology can be combined by means of a new control generation developed by Festo to make a highly dynamic system.

Mobile energy support
Festo paid particular attention to the mobile energy supply on the artificial kangaroo. For this purpose, the team even developed two different concepts – one with an integrated compressor and one with a mobile high-pressure storage device. The movement apparatus (kinematics) is made out of laser-sintered parts reinforced with carbon. As a result, the artificial animal weighs just seven kilograms with a height of around one metre, and it can jump up to 40 centimetres high and up to a distance of 80 centimetres.

Intuitive control by gestures
The BionicKangaroo can be controlled with gestures by means of a special armband, which registers the muscular activity of the operator. A positional sensor in the armband measures the arm’s movement; the armband transmits these signals via Bluetooth to the compact control unit of the artificial kangaroo, which then enters into interaction with the operator.

Source: http://www.festo.com/

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