High-tech meets art

Festo exhibits in the MoMA in New York
Esslingen am Neckar, 11.05.2008 | 

Three projects by the automation specialist Festo from Esslingen am Neckar are currently on show in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. The bionic exhibits "Airacuda’, a pneumatically driven fish, as well as the "Aqua Ray’ and "Air Ray’ whose design is inspired by a ray can be seen as part of the "Design and the Elastic Mind’ exhibition up until May 12. The projects are part of Festo’s Bionic Learning Network, a program for technical training and further education in cooperation with universities and research institutes.

The MoMA exhibition provides an overview of the most recent changes in technology and science that also excel in the field of design. The focus is on design as a means of human adaptation to a rapidly changing environment. In addition to ingenious practical solutions for everyday use, visitors will also find innovative studies from technology research such as Festo’s bionic exhibits. The exhibits show that technical products can be aesthetically pleasing as well as useful and interesting.

Nature as a model
Bionics is an artificial word that marries "biology’ with "technology’. Scientists, engineers and designers in the field work together to use nature as a source for finding solutions to technical problems. They get their inspiration from the perfect shapes and functions of natural organisms that have evolved over time. Well-known examples include hook-and-pile fasteners ("Velcro’) or self-cleaning surfaces, inspired by the lotus flower.

The Airacuda, Aqua Ray and Air Ray projects by Festo point up new paths for the development of intelligent and energy-efficient products by imitating biological principles. For example, the design, shape and motion sequence of the remote-controlled pneumatically driven Airacuda is based on a fish as its biological model. The watertight head contains electronic and pneumatic components that control the movement of the tail fin and propels the device almost noiselessly through the water.

Aqua Ray is another hydraulically driven fish, this time inspired by the shape and motion sequence of a ray. Rays have perfected the art of flying underwater: their wave-shaped movements allow them to glide through water elegantly but also extremely efficiently, expending a minimum of energy. The ray was also the idea behind the Air Ray. Unlike the Aqua Ray, the Air Ray is at home in air rather than water. Filled with helium and spanning more than four metres, it can almost "swim’ in the air.

Design-based company

Festo is a leading provider of pneumatic and electrical automation technology. A family-owned company with its headquarters in Esslingen am Neckar, Festo was founded in 1925 and now has a global presence with around 12,800 employees in 250 locations worldwide. The company sees itself as a design-based technology leader. Festo has won 70 national and international design prizes in the last five years alone.

The Bionic Learning Network is part of Festo’s involvement in the field of technical training and further education. In cooperation with students, universities, institutes and development companies, Festo promotes ideas and initiatives that go beyond the core business and explore potential areas of application for the future. With projects such as its contributions to the MoMA exhibition, the company wishes to bring technology to life for young people in particular, but also for its staff, customers and partners, in order to awaken heightened enthusiasm for technology.