SmartInversion – forward motion through inversion

SmartInversion – forward motion through inversion

Future concept: Festo explores metamorphosis in technology
The Festo Bionic Learning Network will be demonstrating a new innovation in automation technology.

The mechanical principles of rotation and linear motion are the basis of many solutions in automation. Rotary actuators, servo motors and pneumatic and electric semi-rotary actuators work on the principle of rotation. Linear axes and parallel grippers are examples of linear motion. Another new form of motion involves the inversion of a body. The Festo Bionic Learning Network will be demonstrating a new innovation in automation technology at the Hanover Trade Fair 2012 with the "SmartInversion" Future Concept.


"With our Future Concepts, we are constantly seeking out new or relatively unknown motion and drive concepts," explains Dr. Frontzek, Head of Corporate Communication. He explains: "Our engineers are working with renowned universities, institutes and development companies in order to transfer mathematical and scientific principles to industrial applications."


Flying chain with inversion actuator

The "SmartInversion" Future Concept is a flying object filled with helium, which is similar to a chain and moves forward by inverting itself. The intelligent combination of extremely lightweight design, electric drives and open- and closed-loop control makes endless, rhythmically pulsating inversion in the air possible.


This endless, rhythmically pulsating motion is called inversion and lends the flying model its name. The flying object derives its shape from the cubic belt developed by Paul Schatz. With the cubic belt, Schatz discovered that a third basic type of motion, inversion, was possible in addition to rotation (rotary motion) and translation (linear motion). The artist and engineer Schatz divided a cube into two star shapes and an invertible cubic belt. The cubic belt is a six-member joint ring, which separates from the two interlocking parts at the corners, can be continuously inverted and thus take on different shapes.


This spectacular flying object moves with the aid of a pulsating actuator. The interaction between expansion and contraction in a rhythmic sequence is responsible for the inversion.  The helium compensates for the effect of gravity on the chain, thus providing lift for the flying object. 2130 litres of helium are needed for approximately 2334 grams of lift in order to move the object through the air. Thrust is generated as the object inverts itself and it can thus be described as an inversion actuator.


Condition monitoring ensures adequate safety in flight. Data such as the battery charge and current consumption is recorded and monitored in real time during flight. For Festo, the principle of permanent diagnostics is a guarantee for process reliability in automation technology.


Ideas competition looking for new solutions

Festo has announced an interdisciplinary design competition for the Hanover Trade Fair 2012. Festo is looking for a creative idea for a functional application of the inversion for use in industrial environments. In doing so, Festo is setting the pace for innovation in automation technology. This innovative Future Concept symbolises a new type of drive concept. It represents an ideal starting point for encouraging engineers and inspiring the development of future applications.


Simone Schmid


Festo Media Service



Caption Download
SmartInversion Inversion kinematics inspired by Paul Schatz
SmartInversion Forward motion through inversion


Description Download
Film SmartInversion Movie to SmartInversion
01:30 Min
Animation SmartInversion Animation of the SmartInversion
00:52 Min
Animation SmartInversion Animation der SmartInversion
00:52 Min