Festo’s Flying Robot Balloon Can Move Stuff Around Autonomously


Remember Festo’s gripping robot, which uses a mouth-like hand to grab a hold of a wide variety of objects?  Well, they took that gripping mechanism, slapped it on the bottom of a balloon drone, and this goofy-looking flying robot, the Festo FreeMotionHandling, is the result.

A gripping and flying autonomous robot, it combines two common robot functions in one, turning out an automaton that can pick up objects from one location and drop them off at another spot. Oh yeah, the balloon portion can rotate in any direction, allowing it to point the gripper tip exactly to where an object is located. According to Festo, this makes it potentially useful for job sites and workplaces, with the robot able to transport tools and supplies instead of having workers retrieve it on their own.


The Festo FreeMotionHandling consists of a helium-filled balloon measuring 54 inches in diameter, a gripping mechanism, and a ring-shaped frame around the center of the balloon. This carbon fiber frame houses four horizontal rotors, four vertical steering drives, and all the electronic components required by the system, essentially serving as its primary flight control mechanism. Designed for autonomous operation, the robot uses a GPS-based indoor tracking system and two onboard cameras to sense its exact position and the location of any object it’s tasked to pick up, reacting to the environment and planning flight routes all by its lonesome.  It can grab more than one object at a time, although total weight needs to be well under a pound.


Check out Festo’s website to learn more about the FreeMotionHandling robot.

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2 Responses

  1. James

    I was excited then see it could only carry an item that was less than a pound. If they could have made it lift a stack of shingles up and drop them on the roof, then that would have been a greta product. This is an early incarnation of what me might expect in the future, but for now I’ll pass on this. I can’t really think of any feasible use for this thing.

    There is definitely some nice tech advancements used to create it, but when the average person cant use it and there is not really a niche out for it yet, then most people won’t buy this. If they can develop one that is the same size but can carry a hundred pounds, then I would be impressed. In the future we could easily see roofers using this instead of Mexican day labor to get their shingles on the roof, but for now it could only carry 1-2 tiles at a time. What a waste. I guess it is not really a waste, this is just the first release and it’ll hopefully improve in the near future. This is not a product for sale, it is a development product that is used to inspire other designers.

    • Paul

      I’m sure a robot that is able to carry much larger supplies will come around in no time. After testing this out, it’s only natural companies are going to want to take this technology and see how far they can expand it. My first thought when I saw this was playing fetch with my dog. She has a bad habit of loving to chase the ball but doesn’t like bringing it back to me. This could also be useful for those toys that always get stuck on top of the roof. I’m in shock each time I come across new things like this on the web. I can’t help but ask, what will they come up with next? It’s amazing what humans can create!


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