China was abuzz at the 2108 World Robot Conference 2018 in August. Manufacturers from around the world descended on Beijing to showcase their latest robotic endeavors. China is stepping up its robotic output and intends to increase manufacturing operations as we approach 2020.

Xin Guobin, China’s vice minister of industry told media officials:

“Robots are the jewel in the crown for the manufacturing industry...a new frontier for our industrial revolution.”

According to Interesting Engineering, China intends to have most of its industrial robots engineered on home soil by 2020. China is currently the world leader of engineering and selling robots — in 2017, they sold 141,000 industrial units.

Source: Evan Kirstel Twitter

China has launched an initiative, called ‘Made in China 2025’ to upgrade its industries. They hope that by 2025, they will be the world leader in intelligent manufacturing and smart factories.

Attendees of the World Robot Conference were surprised that many of the robotics manufacturers had debuted robots that were seemingly inspired by nature.

The new design frontier indicates that robotics engineers are trying to figure out how to design robots that are more flexible, speedy, responsive, and intelligent. One of the robots that made journalists curious was named the BionicFlyingFox.

The BionicFlyingFox is an intricately designed robot that mimics the flight of a bat. It has been designed with intelligent kinematics and can replicate unbelievable flying maneuvers. A motion tracking system ensures that it doesn't hit any walls or veer off and crash. This makes the robot semi-autonomous, but needless to say, one day it will likely fly on its own.

The robot was created by Festo, a German multinational industrial control and automation company. They produce and sell pneumatic, electrical control and drive technology for factory or process automation.

While their BionicFlyingFox robot is impressive to look at, it’s a statement of how well-designed their other industrial technologies are. Creating agile robots is imperative to the future of robotics. In biomedical engineering, we are already seeing the rise of robots that can perform maneuvers humans are unable to replicate. As robots replace the repetitive jobs that humans have done in the past, ensuring robots are as agile and flexible as possible is important work.

And they need to be lightweight in the future as well — the fox only weighs 580 grams. And it’s getting smarter. Engineers are utilizing motion tracking systems, which are hooked up to a computer that evaluates and learns from the data of each flight. The robot can aptly alter its course on each individual flight based on the findings of its previous flights.

It seems that the time of flexible, agile, autonomous, intelligent robotics has truly come.


Works Cited

Kirstel, Evan. “Evan Kirstel (@Evankirstel).” Twitter, Twitter, 4 Sept. 2018, twitter.com/evankirstel/.

“Our Favorite Robots From China's 2018 World Robot Conference.” Interesting Engineering, 20 Aug. 2018, interestingengineering.com/our-favorite-robots-from-chinas-2018-world-robot-conference.

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