Festo is a straightforward manufacturer of automation products. They are well known for actuators, linear drives, integration tools and servopositioning systems. Basically, Festo are masters of mechatronics. Since my college degree included lots of mechatronics, I have a core fascination with the subject.
But Festo is much more. They have a wicked cool side. For example, take "Smart Bird." This is actually a Festo R&D designed robot flyer. According to Festo's own words, from their website, "smart bird is an ultra lightweight, yet powerful model aircraft with excellent aerodynamics and maximum agility. With smart bird Festo has managed to decipher one of mankind's oldest dreams: the flight of birds."
Festo has over the years developed many of these mechatronic marvels. You can see all of them by visiting Festo's Bionic Learning Network. It's worth the visit.
Here's a look at Smart Bird in flight:
But they also have interesting research that can be addressed to process automation issues. One of the projects of the Bionic Learning Network is an OptoFluidic process analyzer design.
From their website description: "Optofluidics is a relatively new and interdisciplinary technology that combines optics and fluidics. It is both the realization of optical effects and components as well as for the analysis of moving fluids. For fluids include liquids and gases, but also bulk materials that flow through pipes and fittings.
"The technology allows diagnostic and analytical methods in which certain characteristics of moving fluids, components or parameters such as density or volume, color, or harmful substances are detected and evaluated.
"The fluid is loaded with information that can later be read by the optical components. The fluid is the medium that carries the code for the optical analysis already in itself. Components such as cameras and sensors to visualize this, the diagnosis in real time, without the process flow to be interrupted.
"In the future, optical fluid analysis methods replace the time-intensive sampling and stabilize the process flow, reduce component count and reduce costly maintenance."
This kind of active, cutting edge research is one of the reasons I love the automation industry.