Here is a video of ‘robotic aqua penguins’ that is attracting a fair bit of attention. It is made by Festo (both the video and the robot penguins). I think they have made very interesting robots, and I especially like the wonderful sight of the flying robot penguins. However, the suggestion that they resemble actual penguins in their behavior, either individually or as a group, is a bit far fetched, I think. Yes, the head and tail can move about ninety degrees and yes, they manage to have a bit of propulsion with a swimming motion. Yes, they use sonar to avoid collision. And I will happily grant them that they managed to create smooth movements using the flexible head and tail. Neat tricks, but there is of course quite a bit more to a penguin than that.

“They can behave as a group” … “this can lead to collaborative behavior”… I haven’t really seen any of that in this video but I admit the potential is there. In the same way that my laptop can potentially collaborate with all the other PC’s and laptop on the network. There is at least a connection. Or could we see, for example, the automatic upgrading of applications as a collaboration between the server and the connected laptops?

“The robot arm can soon be used in agricultural and production plants”… I am not quite sure what they mean by that. Perhaps they imagine to create a next generation automatic milking machine?

Having said that: Good job, Festo!

EnGadget about Festo
Festo’s own site with more footage and German comments