On some alien planet, this is how they do wheels
April 25, 2012 11:21 PM   Subscribe

This helium-filled flying object moves through the air by turning itself inside-out.

From the German design firm FESTO, which has been mentioned once or twice before.
posted by twoleftfeet (29 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Jesus, guys! A 2 minute long video, and I counted just 1 complete cycle that was (a) completely in-frame the whole time and (b) not interrupted by arty effects.

Other than that: very very cool…
posted by Pinback at 11:28 PM on April 25, 2012 [31 favorites]


Beautiful, but would it kill them to actually let me see it do its thing without cutting away and rewinding it constantly? I have an impression that this thing is awesome but that video is totally useless in terms of demonstrating what this device actually does. God damn, take your dick out of the camera and just film the damn flying robot like a normal human for thirty damn seconds.

On preview: what Pinback said.
posted by Scientist at 11:47 PM on April 25, 2012 [18 favorites]


Read the comments.

I know, I know, youtube comments. But Festo has responded to the "where's the actual footage" criticism in the only appropriate way.
posted by darksasami at 11:51 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yup, looks like they're planning to recut the footage and release one that plays it closer to straight instead of this masturbatory remixed-to-hell-and-back music video.
posted by Scientist at 11:59 PM on April 25, 2012


It's a smoke ring.

I was wondering how the ring propelled itself. Just from the initial written description (it took a while for the video to start playing) I thought it would travel upwards, using lift to move the ring panels so it would go faster than with lift alone. But no, this is going sideways. Of course it has motors at the vertexes to move the panels. But it's still cool.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:02 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, good on them. Serves me right for blocking youtube comments via Stylish.
posted by Pinback at 12:04 AM on April 26, 2012


I feel like the editing is disguising the fact that this thing moves very slowly.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:30 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Slowly you say? I will not stand for that kind of criticism! My fleet of Festo Predator Drones will be at your location in approximately . . . 2 weeks.

Be afraid.
posted by quadog at 12:42 AM on April 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Master Edition has five linked rings on one side, and five unlinked rings on the other.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:42 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If they are wasting precious helium, I will be most displeased. (Not that that makes a lick of a difference. Just saying.) Save the helium!!!
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:49 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


FESTO makes some ridiculously awesome stuff.

They make some seriously awesome stuff. My favorite FESTO thing had been the air ray, but I may have to reconsider.
posted by delmoi at 1:30 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


If they are wasting precious helium, I will be most displeased. (Not that that makes a lick of a difference. Just saying.) Save the helium!!!
You can generate helium through nuclear fusion. inefficient fusion reactors, i.e, reactors that require more energy then they output can be easy to build - a Farnsworth Fusor can be built by a DIYer. It's when you try to get more energy then you put in that you run into problems.
posted by delmoi at 1:32 AM on April 26, 2012


I could see Jovian life looking like this.
posted by codswallop at 2:05 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can see these FESTO creations being made into indoor drones, slowly patrolling indoor public spaces for surveillance and the like. Like skynet but with more whimsy.
posted by eurypteris at 2:24 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


My fleet of Festo Predator Drones will be at your location in approximately . . . 2 weeks.

And then you'll just stand there and go "Wow, COOL!" until the missile hits.

Next up will be our line of puppy mounted lasers.
posted by eriko at 2:30 AM on April 26, 2012


It's well worth going to FESTO's website and poking around the Technology and Art section, along with the rest of their "Future Concepts" stuff. Not a lot of meat, but some beautiful ideas.

As a side note, I was lucky enough to see the Air Ray and Air Jelly flying around a big lecture theatre during a science festival in London a couple of years ago. It was a great experience: they're every bit as graceful and mysterious when seen in real life. The entire crowd, especially the children, were completely entranced and fell silent for the whole display. I heartily recommend going to see them fly, if you get a chance.

At the same exhibition, we got chatting to a very friendly paleontology student who'd spent his summer with a sculptor, making "as correct as possible" models of dinosaurs' heads. The craftsmanship was excellent, the diversity of shape, texture, colour and structure was amazing, and the guy's conversation about the evidence underlying the reconstructions was fascinating. Anyway, our enthusiasm for his project and our odd names (two of us go by what are obviously nicknames, the third has a name unusual enough that it could be a nickname) led this guy to quietly take me aside and ask whether we were From The Internet and, with a nervous but rising hope in his voice, whether we were Furries. Which, for me, cast his collection of hand-sculpted dinosaur heads into a subtly different light.
posted by metaBugs at 3:42 AM on April 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


When the Great Old Ones return, this is what their emmisaries will look like. Only more rugose, no brand label, and they will move by folding in 5 dimensions.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:01 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are obviously many engineering details that go into something like this. How do we get tiny motors to turn at the pivots? How do we hook it all up to somebody's cell phone? But the essential basis, the thing you probably notice the most, is the question of how to make a structure like that, which can be turned inside-out.

The essential structure is based on the ideas of Paul Schatz. Schatz discovered in 1929 that the Platonic solids could be inverted. The idea of inversion is pretty simple; imagine the you have a shape, built out of tetrahedral pyramids, and the edges connecting the solid pieces are flexible hinges. What other shapes can be made? Along the way, Schatz discovered the oloid; a shape that deserves to be better known.

Schatz was supposedly motivated in his geometric studies by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner.

Now that I think of it, I should have just made a post about Paul Schatz. But objects flying through space are more interesting.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:15 AM on April 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


I look forward to wearing a white-edged black blazer as a flock of these things come after me when I wander too close to the beach.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:20 AM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


It looks like the Demon Seed computer.
posted by marienbad at 4:29 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can generate helium through nuclear fusion.

You're joking, right? Do you realize how much hydrogen we'd have to fuse to make any sort of impact on the helium shortage?
posted by Jpfed at 4:49 AM on April 26, 2012


Helium is non-renewable. Prices have been going up rapidly for several years. There was even a 3-month halt on sales a couple of years ago, caused by shortness of supply.
posted by bonehead at 4:59 AM on April 26, 2012


Do you realize how much hydrogen we'd have to fuse to make any sort of impact on the helium shortage?

Twice as much as we are short by?
posted by DU at 4:59 AM on April 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


In case anybody is feeling lazy: Here's the re-cut version of the demo.

I was a little disappointed to see that someone has to drive/control this thing. At first I thought it floated and folded on its own by buoyancy and the naturally shifting center of mass or something.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:18 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow. What we've seen here is a real breakthrough in technology. That's right: YouTube comments being useful.
posted by bicyclefish at 7:39 AM on April 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Slowly you say? I will not stand for that kind of criticism! My fleet of Festo Predator Drones will be at your location in approximately . . . 2 weeks.

Be afraid.


Hah, quadog! I am Thundermonkey! I have nothing to fear... as long as my horde of faithful monkeys makes it here first. They're coming from ... <Brighton. (Best superhero series EVER!)
posted by IAmBroom at 10:12 AM on April 26, 2012


seems like an epic slow indoors battle is a brewing between this thing and these fish
pay per view event $.50
posted by Redhush at 10:38 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can see these FESTO creations being made into indoor drones, slowly patrolling indoor public spaces for surveillance and the like. Like skynet but with more whimsy.
Doesn't seem like they'd do very well outside anyway, the wind would pose a challenge.

Also, there's no reason these things can't be filled with hydrogen if we do run out of helium. Yeah, they'll be flammable, but it wouldn't be that bad.
posted by delmoi at 11:33 AM on April 26, 2012


Hooray for the new video! I'd still like to see it go through more cycles, but it's an improvement. A little less cool now that I can see it is radio-controlled, I guess I assumed it was autonomous before for some reason.

This seems like something that is a really interesting proof of concept but which doesn't really have any obvious practical appliation. Not that I have any problem with that; we could use more whimsical robots. Even the aforementioned Air Jelly and Air Ray (and Air Penguin and Airacuda... sensing a theme here?) are better at locomoting. They're slow, but they do move noticably. I'm not sure how fast that smoke ring thing moves, but it's not fast enough that I could clearly discern its movement during the video.
posted by Scientist at 11:13 PM on April 26, 2012


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