Butterfly drone-2015-4-10

If engineering company Festo has anything to do with it, these lightweight robotic butterflies might just become the next thing in drone technology. Festo's Bionic Learning Network is all about using nature to help solve common tasks, and these 'eMotionButterflies' are their latest creation. 

The autonomous bugs incorporate a system of ten infrared cameras into an 'intelligent networking system' that allows them to see each other and behave like a real insect swarm – much like the quadcopters we all know and love. But at just 32 grams (or one ounce), these bots are even lighter and fly more true to form. 

"With the butterflies themselves, we're taking another step in the areas of miniaturisation, lightweight construction and functional integration," the Festo team explains. "[We've fit] an intelligently employed mechanical system and the smallest possible power units in the tightest space. This reduced use of materials enables the true-to-nature flying behaviour."

The team's work revolves around a simple mantra: nature has had millions of years to refine its designs, so why not apply its strategies to the world of engineering? 

Of course, there are still some kinks to work out (like the four-minute flight time before the bots need a recharge) but we're giving eMotionButterflies our stamp of approval!

As if a swarm of coordinating robo-butterflies wasn't cool enough, Festo also recently rolled out a gripper inspired by a chameleon tongue and a team of bionic ants that can work together to solve common tasks! 

Top header image: Festo/Screengrab from YouTube