Winged Drones Fly Beautifully as Butterflies

There are many robots inspired by nature, but few of them actually look and move like the real thing.

The eMotionButterflies from German robotics company Festo are an exception. These beauties could almost be mistaken for the real thing.

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Each ones weighs a mere 32 grams and has battery life for four minutes of flight. The wings are made from elastic capacitor films and supported by thin carbon rods.

They butterflies are part of a swarming robotic system, where the flying behavior of several drones — each with a wingspan of 50 centimeters — are coordinated to move around a room without bumping into the walls, objects or each other.

The intelligent networking system relies on ten high-speed infrared cameras positioned around a room where the bionic butterflies fly. The cameras track infrared markers on each butterfly and send information in real time to a master computer that coordinates the movements of the swarm.

As beautiful as they are, they are not for sale. They were developed for research purposes and to show how small and lightweight such drones can be.

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“The eMotionButterflies impress with an intelligently employed mechanical system and the smallest possible power units in the tightest space. The reduced use of materials enables the true-to-nature flying behavior,” Festo wrote on their website.

Watch the video below.


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