Festo Bionic E-Trunk Robotic Elephant Trunk
Festo’s Bionic E-Trunk could very well be the world’s first robotic elephant trunk, and the company hopes it can be used for industrial applications in the future. Put simply as possible, it’s made from two 140mm long segments with a tapered diameter with its center running a structure of 3D-printed material and a superelastic rod for longitudinal stabilization.

It gets its shape from thin wires manufactured from a special metallic material, or a so-called shape memory alloy, that are arranged around this center, giving it a spinal column-like appearance. The shape memory alloy exists in two different structures depending on the temperature. If it’s electrically stimulated to generate heat, the wires shorten, while cooling it allows them to ‘remember’ their former shape and return to their original position. This enables the Bionic E-Trunk to bend individually and in a controlled manner in any spatial direction. For those who haven’t seen Festo’s BionicSwift, their robotic bird is the most realistic yet, complete with feathered wings.

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While the pneumatic predecessors were used exclusively to demonstrate the positive gripping of objects, the Bionic E-Trunk can be used to implement other functions of the elephant’s trunk: the intake and delivery of liquids or air,” said the company.