Like their biological role model, the AquaPenguins have an energy-efficient flow pattern. With the help of their wing drive, the artificial penguins can maneuver through the water in the tightest of spaces, turn on the spot and – unlike their natural counterpart – even swim backwards. They can orient themselves independently and develop different, variable behavioral patterns in a group.
Penguins are fascinating animals: to survive in the cold Antarctic waters, they are not only excellently insulated. They also reduce their energy consumption through a flow-optimized physique. Once more, nature shows how a minimum of energy input can achieve a maximum of performance. Reason enough for our Bionic Learning Network to investigate the efficient flow pattern of birds in the AquaPenguins and to implement it technically.
To communicate with their environment and the other bionic penguins, the AquaPenguins are equipped with a special 3D sonar. Similar to dolphins, they use broadband ultrasonic signals to determine their position in space, continuously measure the distances to the boundaries of the water body, avoid collisions and navigate independently. The penguins can use a separate pressure sensor for depth measurement in open water.
The hull that moves in all directions is an absolute innovation in robot technology. Its construction consists of a flexible Fin Ray® structure derived from the tail fin of the fish: on encountering lateral pressure it does not bend away, it curves around the pressure point. For the AquaPenguins, the bionic Fin Ray® structure has now been extended to three-dimensional space for the first time. The penguins' hull construction could be used in automation as a flexible parallel kinematic system arrangement, opening up new fields of application in custom handling systems.