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Bionic Learning Network

New impulses for factory and process automation

In everyday factory operations, automation technology performs typical tasks such as gripping, moving and positioning goods, and controlling and regulating processes. Nature solves all these tasks naturally, simply, and energy efficiently. What could be more logical than to examine these natural phenomena and learn from them? This is why in 2006 we set up an international research network linking Festo to well-known universities, institutes, development companies, and private inventors: the Bionic Learning Network. Learn more about the network and click your way through our future concepts of recent years.

Who’s behind the Bionic Learning Network?

Participants in the Bionic Learning Network – interdisciplinary teamwork

Since the beginning of the 1990s, we have been working intensively on the subject of bionics – the transfer of natural mechanisms and principles of action to technology. With the founding of the Bionic Learning Network in 2006, a lively and open exchange has been established in cooperation with renowned universities, institutes, and development companies.

Our core team consists of engineers, designers, computer scientists, biologists, robot specialists, and students. They work closely with experts from other divisions and external partners from all over the world. This open, interdisciplinary teamwork offers new perspectives and inspiration for industrial applications and possible standard products for the future.

  • Inside Festo: Core Team Bionic Projects, Research and Development, Product Management, Testing, Product Development, Product Design, Trade Show Stand Construction, Corporate Design …
  • Universities and institutes: Berlin Technical University, Delft University of Technology, Ilmenau Technical University, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Christian Albrechts University Kiel, University of Art and Industrial Design Linz, University of Oslo and Akershus, Department of Product Design, University of Applied Sciences Ravensburg-Weingarten, University of Stuttgart, CIN University Tübingen, University of Ulm, Fraunhofer IPA ...
  • External companies: aeroix GmbH, Ebert Zobel Industrial Design GbR, Effekt-Technik GmbH, Evologics GmbH, JNTec GbR, Nnaisense SA, Sachs Engineering …

The BionicKangaroo team: engineers, designers, biologists, and software specialists from Festo

The BionicKangaroo team: engineers, designers, biologists, and software specialists from Festo

What do we want to achieve with bionics?

The goals – more than just developing new technologies

Motivate, inspire, enthuse, and kick-start innovation – as a technology leader and a learning company, we are pursuing a set of clear objectives with the Bionic Learning Network:

  • Establish networks and motivate people from different sectors to develop their ideas with us
  • Keep track of current trends in research and development and test new technologies and manufacturing methods
  • Increase creativity in solution processes and drive preliminary product development through prototyping
  • Discuss possible solutions with our customers and partners and obtain customer feedback about issues related to innovation
  • Show our solutions expertise in an appealing way in order to inspire young people for technology and to find new talents

The BionicANTs: technology test bed, development platform, and eye-catcher all in one

The BionicANTs: technology test bed, development platform, and eye-catcher all in one

How do you benefit as a customer?

Development partner Festo – driving force for customer innovations

The future concepts of the Bionic Learning Network function act as development platforms which combine a whole host of technologies and components – from manufacturing concepts and series products in use right through to software and control technology.

Continuous optimization of the individual technologies means that we acquire in-depth knowledge and innovative approaches to developing and improving new products and applications together with you. The know-how gained from this makes us the number-one partner for our OEM customers in a wide range of industries and requirements.

With the right components and solutions, services and expertise, we support your product development right from the start and accompany you from market analysis, function simulation, and prototypes to efficient and productive series production.

The Bionic Handling Assistant: future concept for simultaneous development of various cross-sectional technologies

The Bionic Handling Assistant: future concept for simultaneous development of various cross-sectional technologies

Adaptive grippers: from bionic concept to series product

Grasping has always played an important role in the Bionic Learning Network. Nature is often a source of amazing ideas and new solutions for industrial applications. Numerous bionic gripping applications have already been developed in the interdisciplinary research work of the network, from which two concepts have been further developed into series products.

Adaptive gripper finger DHAS: inspired by the fish fin

Adaptive gripper finger DHAS: inspired by the fish fin

The adaptive gripper finger DHAS is based on the amazing behavior of the fish tail fin. If you press sideways against the fin, it does not bend away, but curves around the pressure point. The developers have technically implemented this so-called FinRay Effect® with the aid of two flexible polyurethane tapes that are connected to each other via intermediate webs.

Whether parallel or centrically arranged: when gripping, the stable yet simultaneously flexible gripper fingers easily adapt to the contour of the workpiece. This enables gentle and safe gripping of sensitive objects with irregular surfaces. The DHAS is already being used in the food industry – for example, to sort fruit and vegetables.

Adaptive shape gripper DHEF: adaptable like a chameleon’s tongue

Adaptive shape gripper DHEF: adaptable like a chameleon’s tongue

The adaptive form gripper DHEF is a further development of the FlexShapeGripper. Its principle of action is derived from the tongue of the chameleon. In order to catch prey, the animal lets its tongue rip out like a rubber band. Shortly before the tip of its tongue reaches the insect, it pulls back in the middle as the edges continue to move forward. As a result, the tongue adapts to the shape and size of the prey and wraps around it tightly.

The pneumatic gripper’s main component is a silicone cap that is filled with a slight overpressure. The silicone cap is modeled on a chameleon’s tongue and fits flexibly and tightly over the material being gripped. This allows a gripping object to be enclosed and held. Even the reception of several objects, such as screws from a shell, can be realized by a corresponding control with proportional valves.