Automation and robotics company Festo has designed a super-light drone aircraft that moves like a butterfly. The artificial insects (called eMotionButterflies) are ultra-light robots that flutter on 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.
Each eMotionButterflies is controlled independently by a tiny servo, which allows the robot to maneuver in the air without any complicated fins of spinning blades. The hardware controlling the butterfly is also extremely compact and the wings are made from light plastic.
The robots can fly autonomously with the help of an indoor GPS system based on infrared cameras, which watch the movement of the drones using infrared markers. The position of the aircraft is transmitted to a PC which determines the drone’s location helping them to be directed around the room without running into each other.
The company isn’t selling robots to consumers. These are research platforms that are part of the company’s Bionic Learning Network, which could be used in the networked factory of the future.