Festo’s BionicOpter – The Robotic Dragonfly

Wednesday, April 3rd 2013. | Robot

Among many flying insects, dragonflies are arguably the most advanced species. Their physiology and anatomy allows them to move in the air flawlessly. Be it flying forward or backward or even hovering idly in one spot, these amazing insects can do it. This is probably why engineers at Festo, an electric automation company, build BionicOpter.


It’s not the first time we see a robotic dragonfly as a few months ago TechJect Dragonfly was unveiled. However, compared to it, BionicOpter has a lot more stuff that resembles its biological counterpart. If the former is an orthopter, the latter can’t even be said a copter since it features two sets of wings instead of rotating blades. Not to say that it also has a distinct head and tail.

In terms of size, BionicOpter measures in at 17.3-inch (from head to tail). If it had to fly among a crowd of dragonflies, you would be able to differentiate easily as it’d look as the biggest. Surprisingly, the total weight is only 175gr, thanks to the lightweight yet rugged housing made of combination of aluminum, polyamide, and terpolymer. Check it out in action below!

Beating profoundly inside the BionicOpter is an ARM-based microcontroller. The processor is responsible to the entire mechanism of the micro-UAV such as acceleration, inertia moment, including the flapping frequency.That allows the user to only focus on the steering. Speaking of its steering, controls can be made via a smartphone or other spectrum transmitter that works in frequency of 2.4GHz. While Festo states that it sports a couple of lithium polymer batteries, it doesn’t specify how long it can stay on the air. I wish I had the chance for a hands-on.

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