“Airborne geometrical band with inversion drive”
Festo, a German automation technology company that brought us, among other things, the smartbird robotic seagull and bionic flying penguins, has built a flying object unlike any we have seen. Despite the impressive biomimicry track record, this time its engineers decided to look for inspiration in the inanimate world of geometry. Based on a geometrical band first created by Swiss artist and inventor Paul Schatz, the SmartInversion is filled with helium and propels itself through the air by constantly turning itself inside out. By investigating this pulsating, rhythmical movement, called inversion, the company hopes to identify possible uses for it in technology.
SmartInversion – described by Festo as an “airborne geometrical band with inversion drive” – is going to look familiar to those who have played with a fairly popular origami design that can be continually twisted inwards or outwards while it shows different sides of the tetrahedra (spatial figures also known as “triangular pyramids”) it is made of. This giant piece of invertible origami is composed of selectively-linked, extremely lightweight tetrahedron-shaped compartments filled with helium. Operated by electric actuators, the tetrahedra use inversion kinetics to propel the contraption forwards.
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