MRO Magazine

BionicOpter model will fly at Calgary science, technology, engineering and arts event


September 10, 2015
By Bill Roebuck
With its remote-controlled BionicOpter dragonfly, Festo demonstrates wireless real-time communication and  function integration into lightweight construction.

With its remote-controlled BionicOpter dragonfly, Festo demonstrates wireless real-time communication and
function integration into lightweight construction.

Mississauga, ON – With the BionicOpter, Festo has applied the highly complex flight characteristics of the dragonfly to an ultra-lightweight flying object at a technical level.

As technological leader and a learning company, the German-based company will demonstrate how nature provides inspiration to kick-start innovation and create the automation technology of the future at this year’s Beakerhead, an event in Calgary that is partnering with the University of Calgary and the Schulich School of Engineering.

Presentations of Festo’s Bionic Learning Network and the BionicOpter will take place throughout the week at the University of Calgary, during Beakernight, at various school programs, and at the Calgary Zoo. For a detailed schedule, visit

As a global manufacturer of pneumatic and electric automation technology, Festo’s core business is to shape the production and working environments of the future by offering its customers innovative solutions for the production systems of the future.


“Through Festo’s Bionic Learning Network, we turn to nature, which provides a vast source of intelligent solutions to technical problems [that] we can apply in areas of energy efficiency, lightweight construction and functional integration,” said Thomas Lichtenberger, general manager of Festo Inc., Mississauga, On.

“As a technological leader and learning company, the objectives of the Bionic Learning Network go well beyond developing new technologies to motivate, inspire, enthuse and kick-start innovation,” he said. “With our bionic projects, we demonstrate the solution expertise of Festo in a way that will inspire young people to take an interest in technology and help us to discover new talent.”

Learning from nature to improve productivity

The Bionic Learning Network is a network linking Festo to well-known universities, institutes and development companies. Its objective is to transfer biological principles to industrial automation technology and to provide innovative solutions for industrial applications through biomimicry.

The BionicOpter’s natural model, the dragonfly, is able to manoeuvre in all directions, glide without beating its wings and hover in the air. Its ability to move its two pairs of wings independently enables it to slow down and turn abruptly, to accelerate swiftly and even to fly backwards. With the BionicOpter, Festo has applied these highly complex characteristics to an ultra-lightweight flying object at a technical level. For the first time, there is a model that can master the flight conditions of a helicopter, plane and glider combined. This bionic model integrates several functions into small spaces, and gains reliability through condition monitoring and real time communication, and thus provides inspiration for Festo’s integrated automation concept.

Festo at a glance

Festo is a global company producing automation technology and industrial training and education. Festo’s pneumatic and electric drive technology stands for innovation in industrial and process automation – from individual products to ready-to-install solutions. Festo’s hallmarks include a global presence and improving customer productivity through close, long-term partnerships. With over 300,000 customers globally and 16,800 employees worldwide in 61 national companies, Festo’s sales for 2014 were 2.34 billion Euros. This year, the third-generation family-owned company celebrates the 90th anniversary of its founding and 40 years of operation in Canada.

Beakerhead at a glance

Beakerhead is a city-wide, interactive movement that brings together the arts and engineering sectors to build and exhibit works of art and science during an annual weeklong event each fall. From outdoor artworks to community celebrations, interactive digital events to event premieres, Beakerhead is a crucible of human ingenuity. Beakerhead 2015 will take place in Calgary September 16-20. For more information visit or follow @Beakerhead on Twitter or Instagram and Beakerhead on Facebook.