Marvelous Animal Robots


Over the years, man has never ceased to copy the things that fascinate him. Airplanes were created because he wanted to fly just like the birds. Submarines were invented because he wanted to explore the deepest seas just like the fishes. And in many of these creations, man has always find inspirations in the animal world.

Alas! Man has finally produced an almost exact likeness of certain animals. These robots are not only physically similar to animals but they also mimic their behaviors and even their sounds. Well, here are some of the most marvelous animal robots.
 

Airpenguin

Penguins do not fly, yet they are excellent divers. They are aquatic birds who have lost their ability of flight in the course of genetic development.  But guys in Festo, a company in Germany, have created a robotic replica of penguin which can fly in the sea of air and named it AirPenguin.

The AirPenguin is composed of a helium-filled ballonet (having a capacity of approx. 1 cubic meter with approx. 1 kg of buoyant force) and a part called 3D Ray® structure located at each end of the ballonett. The 3D Ray® structure is a pyramid-shaped structure made up of  four carbon fiber rods connected at joints by a series of rings spaced approx. 10 cm apart. This structure enables the AirPenguin to move freely in any spatial direction. The AirPenguin also has wings which are attached to a strut passing through the helium-filled ballonet. The wings have actuators which facilitate the continuously variable control of the flapping frequency, forward and reverse motion, and ascent and descent. With regards to its size, the AirPenguin has an overall length of 3.70 m with a maximum torso diameter of 0.88 m.


The AirPenguin is equipped with a microcontroller which gives it the free will to explore a pre-defined air space. The microcontroller also controls a total of nine digital actuators for the wings, head and tail sections. Hence, the AirPenguin has autonomous self-regulating systems with collective behaviors.

Accordingly, this research project of Festo’s Bionic Learning Network will hopefully help “for future requirements in the automation of production processes.”


Aquajelly

 Jellyfishes are truly lovely to look at, but just too itchy to be touched. But more than that stinging feature, these creatures which are approximately 99% water have efficiently adopted themselves to both salt and freshwater. They are very amazing sea animals that guys in Festo, again, made a robotic version of them called Aquajelly.

Aquajelly is an artificial self-supporting jellyfish with an electric drive and an intelligent, adaptive mechanical system. It is made up of a translucent hemisphere, a central watertight body (which houses the central electric motor, two lithium-ion polymer accumulator batteries, the charging control unit, and the several actuators), and eight tentacles for propulsion designed to emulate swarming behavior.


Inside the Aquajelly’s translucent hemisphere is an annular control board with integrated pressure, light and radio sensors. The pressure sensor helps the Aquajelly determine its precise location (through its depth in the basin) at all times so it can reposition itself within a specific pressure zone. Secondly, the radio sensor enables communication at the water’s surface between several Aquajellies. The third sensor, light, is the principal communication medium under water. For example, when an Aquajelly receives a positional signal from another approaching jellyfish, it can actually take evasive action.

Aside from the sensors that monitor surroundings, it is also fitted with an internal sensor that monitors its energy conditions; hence, the Aquajelly is rechargeable. It has a charging control unit on its outside, and it continuously communicates with a charging station located above the water to ensure that it is supplied with sufficient energy. It simply approaches a station for recharging which takes around three hours.

Truly, the Aquajelly is another wonder in the field of robotics.


AIBO


Dogs are man’s best friends. They are really loyal and dependable pets. Almost everyone has dog(s) at home. But not anyone can commit to the responsibility of having them as pets, or that others have allergy to their hairs. Maybe, this is why people in Japan invented a robotic pet named AIBO.

AIBO stands for Artificial Intelligence robot (homonymous with “pal” or “partner” in Japanese) and was designed and manufactured by Sony. It was introduced on May 11, 1999 and there have been several different models ever since.

 AIBO is autonomous; it can walk, it can see its environment through its camera, and it can recognize spoken commands in Spanish and English. Its reactions are based on certain external stimuli from their owner, their environment, and from other AIBOs. A fully mature robot can understand and obey up to 100 voice commands.


 There was an International AIBO Convention which took place every year at Sony Robotics Tower in Shinjuku prefecture. The convention usually features AIBO advertisements, free accessories, freeware and open-source download, and many others. Moreover, there was the yearly RoboCup Four-Legged Robot Soccer League where competitors would program a team of AIBO robots to play soccer games against another.

On January 26, 2006 Sony announced that it would discontinue AIBO. However, AIBO will still be supported until 2003 and AIBO technology will continue to be developed for use in other consumer products.

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