© festo.com

A German electronics firm experimenting with aerodynamics has produced an astonishing robotic replica of a flying fox, complete with 3D printed parts and elastane – usually used in hosiery.

The BionicFlyingFox from Festo is an attempt to master the sleek movements engineered by mother nature. Out in the wild, the genuine flying fox is the only mammal that can actively fly.

The animal uses its fingers tucked under its membrane wings to help direct its flight path. In the artificial prototype by Festo, manufacturers used carbon rods to create the bionic fox’s body and wafer thin elastane to replicate the wings. Elastane is typically used in garments like underwear and skinny fit jeans.

According to Festo, the robot is welded together at 45,000 points and weighs just 580 (20oz). The machine is also capable of completing a predetermined flight path, with a human operator required only for take-off and landing.

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“So that the BionicFlyingFox is able to move semi-autonomously in a defined space, it communicates with a motion-tracking system. The installation constantly records its position. A person performs the start and landing manually. The autopilot takes over in flight,” the company explains.

Footage shows the bionic creature hanging upside down before plunging into an incredible dive and steadily gliding to safety. In the past, Festo has produced a bionic jumping kangaroo and a smart dragonfly machine.

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