Dragonflies have always been a captivating insect, thanks to their complex flight characteristics. Now a German company has designed bio-inspired robotic dragonfly that can fly in all directions, hover in mid-air and glide without beating its wings, just like the real thing.
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Created by Festo, a leader in pneumatic and electrical automation technology, the BionicOpter is just over 17 inches long and weighs only six ounces. Inside its lightweight aluminum and plastic housing is a microcontroller that calculates input from onboard sensors and actuators, then translates that data to the servo motors in the wings.
Because the complex flapping motions of the wings are controlled by the BionicOpter's software and electronics, the operator only has to worry about steering, which can be done remotely via a smartphone or the digital spectrum transmitter.
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"In addition to control of the shared flapping frequency and twisting of the individual wings, each of the four wings also features an amplitude controller," the company writes on its website. "The tilt of the wings determines the direction of thrust. Amplitude control allows the intensity of the thrust to be regulated. When combined, the remote-controlled dragonfly can assume almost any position in space."
You can watch the BionicOpter take flight here. And while you're at it, crack open a beer and cue up this Devendra Banhart song.