Design

A Drone Butterfly Army Takes Flight

Festo's eMotionButterflies use infrared cameras to fly like real bugs.

by Emerson Rosenthal
Mar 27 2015, 6:50pm

A swarm of remote-controlled butterflies could very well be the drone army of the future, if German industrial control and automation company, Festo, has anything to say about it. Revealed yesterday, eMotionButterflies are ultra-light robots that flutter on uncanny flapping wings and incorporate a system of ten infrared cameras into a guided and monitored "intelligent networking system" that allows them to behave like a real-life flock. 

"The eMotionButterflies impress with an intelligently employed mechanical system and the smallest possible power units in the tightest space," Festo writes on their site. "The reduced use of materials enables the true-to-nature flying behaviour."

The bionic bugs aren't the only animal-inspired robots Festo is launching, either. Yesterday's unveiling also included a pack of highly-organized robotic ants, BionicANTs, and the FlexShapeGripper, an articulating gripping arm modeled after the chameleon's tongue. Considering last year's launch of the herring gull-mimicking SmartBird and the leaping BionicKangaroo, it's safe to say that a robot zoo is coming to life at the Festo headquarters. 

Check out the eMotionButterflies in action below, and click here to learn more about the robotic insects. 

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