Festo builds BionicOpter—fully functional robot dragonfly (w/ Video)

Apr 01, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
Festo builds BionicOpter—fully functional robot dragonfly (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —German technology company Festo has unveiled the BionicOpter, a fully functional robotic dragonfly. It can fly forwards, backwards, hover and even fly sideways—just like a real dragonfly. Its introduction marks another step forward in robotics engineering.

The BionicOpter isn't as tiny as its natural counterpart—it's approximately 19 inches long with a of just over 27 inches. But it looks a lot like the real thing with its dual pair of wings operating independently affixed to its rail thin body and slightly bulbous light blue head. It weighs, remarkably, just 175gms.

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Festo hasn't yet demoed the BionicOpter to a live audience just yet—thus far pictures and video posted on the company's site are the only evidence of its existence. But all that is to change as the company will be giving a demonstration of their new robotic insect at the upcoming Hannover Messe technology fair in Germany.

claims it has mastered the technically complex process involved in dragonfly flight. That's no small boast. The is a master flyer—it can hover, fly backwards, even glide with no wing movement at all. Robots that can mimic such flight would have more capabilities than planes or , or even quadcopters (they can't glide when turned off). That it is able to do so with all of its "brains" (and a battery) tucked inside such a tiny little frame is truly remarkable. Its wings—made of foil and carbon-fiber—are moved by individual tiny servo-motors that allow for 90 degrees of adjustment—all controlled by a single ARM microprocessor. They can generate thrust in all directions. Flight is controlled by adjusting for wing flapping speed, amplitude and twist. The BionicOpter has 13 —9 from the wings and 4 from head and tail movement.

Festo builds BionicOpter—fully functional robot dragonfly (w/ Video)

The company hasn't divulged any planned use for such a —as it presently exists, it appears it's little more than a display of technical brilliance—but, it's not difficult to see how others might tweak the design a little bit to add functionality. Adding a stinger for example, or a camera, or more menacingly, explosives or hazardous chemicals to create a very lethal weapon might not be out of the realm of possibility. More optimistically, the design appears to open the door to the opportunity of a new form of human flight—if the robot were to be made bigger, rather than smaller—perhaps it could carry a person inside.

Explore further: Robots recognize humans in disaster environments

More information: www.festo.com/cms/en_corp/13165.htm

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User comments : 10

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Moebius
1 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2013
They didn't name it Lexx? And why doesn't its reflection appear on the floor? I seriously doubt material technology will ever get to the point that makes an ornithopter wing feasible in 1G for anything very large.
C_elegans
4.7 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2013
How does this compare to the dragonflies on indiegogo, which are the actual size of the bug?

http://www.indieg...ragonfly
LariAnn
5 / 5 (2) Apr 01, 2013
They didn't name it Lexx? And why doesn't its reflection appear on the floor? I seriously doubt material technology will ever get to the point that makes an ornithopter wing feasible in 1G for anything very large.

The reflection can be seen on the floor when the bot is very close to the floor (near the end of the video) but when higher and at the camera angle used, the reflection is out of the camera field of view.
Lurker2358
2.7 / 5 (3) Apr 01, 2013
I seriously doubt material technology will ever get to the point that makes an ornithopter wing feasible in 1G for anything very large.


Um. There are fossiles of real dragonflies with like a 3 foot wing span.

Then there's California Condors and Pterodactyls, which have massive wingspans compared to most birds.

Clearly something a LOT bigger than this little machine can be made.

What I did notice in slow motion is this method of flight looks remarkably like swimming motions, of say a Sea Turtle, but just much faster.
geokstr
1 / 5 (6) Apr 01, 2013
Fully functional? Really?

Can it make baby mechanical dragonflies?
Lurker2358
2.4 / 5 (5) Apr 01, 2013
Fully functional? Really?

Can it make baby mechanical dragonflies?


Seriously? You missed the point of the context. Wow. That's just silly comment.

However, thanks for pointing out how advanced God's design is compared to man's attempts.
rwinners
not rated yet Apr 01, 2013
Cool! Any way to put a stinger in that tail?
nowhere
3.5 / 5 (2) Apr 02, 2013

However, thanks for pointing out how advanced God's design is compared to man's attempts.

Ironic how gods designs are advanced yet so glaringly imperfect. Seems more like a job done by evolution.
geokstr
2.3 / 5 (3) Apr 02, 2013
Fully functional? Really?

Can it make baby mechanical dragonflies?


Seriously? You missed the point of the context. Wow. That's just silly comment.

However, thanks for pointing out how advanced God's design is compared to man's attempts.

Seriously? You missed the point of my comment. It was supposed to be silly. But it is pretty much the consensus of science that having a sense of humor and being a follower of the religion of Leftism are mutually incompatible.
C_elegans
not rated yet Apr 02, 2013
Natello: When you want to conserve energy and glide, rather than hover, use a dragonfly. The dragonfly design is capable of sporadic fluttering, it doesn't have to be always on to stay aloft. This greatly expands battery life when compared to quadcopters.