Dutch researchers take flight with three-gram 'dragonfly'

Jul 22, 2008
The DelFly Micro is a ´Micro Air Vehicle´ (MAV), an exceptionally small remote-controlled aircraft with camera and image recognition software. The Micro, weighing just 3 grams and measuring 10 cm (wingtip to wingtip) is the considerably smaller successor to the successful DelFly I (2005) and DelFly II (2006).

(PhysOrg.com) -- On Wednesday 23 July, TU Delft will be presenting the minute DelFly Micro air vehicle. This successor to the DelFly I and II weighs barely 3 grams, and with its flapping wings is very similar to a dragonfly.

Ultra-small, remote-controlled micro aircraft with cameras, such as this DelFly, may well be used in the future for observation flights in difficult-to-reach or dangerous areas. The DelFly Micro will make a short demonstration flight during the presentation.


Video: DelFly micro first test flight. TU Delft

The DelFly Micro is a 'Micro Air Vehicle' (MAV), an exceptionally small remote-controlled aircraft with camera and image recognition software. The Micro, weighing just 3 grams and measuring 10 cm (wingtip to wingtip) is the considerably smaller successor to the successful DelFly I (2005) and DelFly II (2006). The DelFly Micro, with its minuscule battery weighing just 1 gram, can fly for approximately three minutes and has a maximum speed of 5 m/s.

Ultra-small remote-controlled, camera-equipped aircraft are potentially of great interest because they could eventually be used for observation flights in difficult-to-reach or dangerous areas.

The basic principle of the DelFly is derived from nature. The 'dragonfly' has a tiny camera (about 0.5 grams) on board that transmits its signals to a ground station. With software developed by TU Delft itself, objects can then be recognised independently.

The camera transmits TV quality images, and therefore allows the DelFly II to be operated from the computer. It can be manoeuvred using a joystick as if the operator was actually in the cockpit of the aircraft. The aim is to be able to do this with the DelFly Micro too.

The development of the DelFly is above all the story of continuing miniaturisation of all the parts, from the DelFly I (23 grams and 50 cm) via the DelFly II (16 grams and 30 cm) to the present DelFly Micro (3 grams and 10 cm).

The DelFly II drew huge attention in 2006 because it could fly horizontally (21 km/hr) as well as hover, just like a hummingbird, and also fly backwards. The DelFly Micro, incidentally, cannot do this just yet.

In a few years time, the new objective of the project, the DelFly NaNo (5 cm, 1 gram) will have been developed. The Micro is an important intermediate step in this development process. A second objective for the future is for the DelFly to be able to fly entirely independently thanks to image recognition software.

See www.delfly.nl for more information on all DelFly's.

Source: TU Delft

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googleplex
3.5 / 5 (4) Jul 22, 2008
Cool.
Better performance could be obtained with a micro helium blimp. Blimps make ideal observation platforms. You would have to engineer the tedlar into thinner sheets.
Mercury_01
1.7 / 5 (7) Jul 22, 2008
Big brother uses these as survailance bots, only theirs are very advanced and look just like real dragonflies. if you see one, smash it and make off with it before the suits come to retrieve it.
Doug_Huffman
not rated yet Jul 22, 2008
You may be confusing 'Dune' with your doom.
jeffsaunders
1 / 5 (1) Jul 23, 2008
Great little gadget - but it must be easier to make a miniature propeller than build a robot dragon fly. Not that I am complaining about what these guys have done - great work.

But why not build a miniature plane - it would last longer - go further and be quieter as well.
warmer
not rated yet Jul 23, 2008
I think these little guys are meant to be disposable. The cost involved in making one of these is probably around $5-10 in parts.

As far as the blimp idea goes, add a light windy and you just lost your target.

Plus this guy has the potential, from far away, to look like a dragon fly. If you colored it correctly I'm sure you could fool people that weren't actually looking at it with a great deal of scrutiny.

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