Hannover, Germany – On display at the Hannover Messe 2019 trade fair, Festo’s BionicFinWave is an underwater robot with fin drive that moves itself through narrow pipe systems.
The design was based on nature: to move forward, the marine planarian and sepia create a continuous wave with their fins, which advances along their entire length. For the BionicFinWave, the bionics team was inspired by this undulating fin movement. The undulation pushes the water backward, creating a forward thrust. This principle allows the BionicFinWave to maneuver forward or backward through an acrylic tube system.
Its two side fins are completely cast out of silicone and do not require struts or other supporting elements. The two fins are attached to the left and right of nine small lever arms, which in turn are powered by two servo motors. Two adjacent crankshafts transmit the force to the levers so that the two fins can be moved individually to generate different shaft patterns. They are particularly suitable for slow and precise locomotion and whirl up less water than, for example, a screw drive. A cardan joint is located between each lever segment to ensure that the crankshafts are flexible. For this purpose, the crankshafts including the joints and the connecting rod are made of plastic in one piece using the 3D printing process.
Intelligent component interaction
The remaining elements in the BionicFinWave’s body are also 3D-printed, which enables its complex geometries in the first place. With their cavities, they act as flotation units. At the same time, the entire control and regulation technology are watertight, safely installed and synchronized in a very tight space.
New impulses and approaches for the process industry
With the bionic technology carrier, our Bionic Learning Network once again provides an impulse for future work with autonomous robots and new drivetrain technologies in liquid media. It would be conceivable to further develop concepts such as the BionicFinWave for inspections, measurement series or data collections – for example for water and wastewater technology or other areas of the process industry.