German company Festo is one of the world's leading providers of pneumatic and electrical automation technology. Specializing in factory automation, tasks and services created from their products rotate, grip, position, connect, test, check, and join discrete materials. In addition, they also conduct research to develop new innovative technologies. Their most recent development, the BionicOpter, is a robotic dragonfly, which was inspired by nature and has mastered the complex flight of real dragonflies.
The robot is not as small as a real dragonfly would be; however, just like the real thing it can fly in all directions (including backwards), hover in the air, and can glide without flapping its wings. Its wingspan is about 27 inches and the length from the head to the tail is approximately 19 inches. Inside the body is where all the brains and mechanical components are hidden which all adds up to around 175 grams or 6 ounces. Furthermore, the body and wings of the robotic insect are made from aluminum, polyamide, and a terpolymer (a form of ABS) which contribute not only to the lightweight frame but provide a rigid sturdy housing for the robot.
If looking inside, you will find the dragonfly is controlled through an ARM microcontroller, which handles all the flight calculations and wing adjustments. The MCU reads information from the user input along with onboard inertia, acceleration, and position sensors. As a result, the wings are constantly adjusted in flight by servos to provide the most efficient flight maneuvers. The wings flap anywhere between 15 and 20 Hz, while the tilt of the wings determines the direction of the thrust. The BionicOpter also includes an amplitude controller, which regulates the intensity of the thrust. Together, the robot is capable of assuming almost any position in space and conquering the complex flight of one of the best flying creatures in nature.
The flying robot is powered by two LiPo cell batteries and controlled through a smartphone app. There have been no announcements for what the creation can or will be used for, but at the moment it seems to be a demonstration of their technical expertise. Although their model was somewhat shaky, which can be seen in the video, this may perhaps give rise to a new form of flight for larger devices or aircrafts.
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