In millions of years of evolution, nature has produced many sophisticated locomotor systems that engineers use as inspiration for creating better robots. We show some current technical developments that are highly advanced.
The bionic bird
It might only be a toy, it’s anything but ordinary – the Bionic Bird not only looks like a bird, it also flies like one! A French company developed the Bionic Bird, which can be controlled with a smartphone. It achieves a speed of up to 20 km/h and has a range of 100 m. Its developers have been dreaming of an electrically driven bird for a long time, but it was only after the rise of light microtechnology that this vision could become reality. And now the Bionic Bird, which weighs only 9 g, is a fascinating alternative to the customary propeller drones.
In 2009, engineers at the Robotics Systems Lab of the ETH Zurich started to develop a four-legged robot that can move autonomously and is intended for use in harsh conditions. ANYmal is now capable of running, conquering inclines, and even pressing the elevator button. With laser sensors and cameras, the robot continuously creates a map of its environment, knows where it is and carefully navigates through the terrain. ANYmal weighs around 30 kg, can carry a payload of up to 10 kg, and runs for two hours on a single battery charge. It is being distributed and further developed by the ETH spin-off ANYbotics. In the future, the robot, which is able to run, jump and climb, could be used for inspections, rescue operations, or in entertainment.