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Festo AirPenguins: autonomous flying in the sea of air


Autonomous flying in the sea of air

The AirPenguins flying collectively are very close to their biological role model in the sea in terms of mobility and design: Thanks to their flexible 3D structure with Fin Ray Effect® at the rear and front, they glide through the air like their natural counterpart through the water. With their passively twisting wings, they can fly forward as well as backward. The ultra-light flying objects are buoyed up by their helium-filled ballonet.

As sea birds and excellent divers, penguins have forgotten how to fly over the course of evolution. With the AirPenguins, our Bionic Learning Network has developed a group of artificial penguins and taught them to fly again.

Autonomous systems with collective behavior

The group consists of three autonomously flying penguins. They float within a defined airspace, which is detected by ultrasonic transmitting stations. Within this space the penguins can move freely and explore it independently according to agreed rules. Based on the distances to the transmitting stations, the flying objects recognize each other, which enables collision-free flying in the collective.

In addition, the AirPenguins can also perform synchronous actions in the group. The intelligent control technology guarantees the height control and position stability of the flying penguins. An extensive central monitoring system counteracts sensor failures and permanently checks their energy status. If necessary, it also allows autonomous return to the charging station and ensures flight safety.