Robo-DragonFlies: Creepy, Beautiful... Toys?

Reader Request week draws to a close with a post inspired by the Dude and the exploding robotic fireflies he was so impressed by in GI Joe Retaliation. CGI fireflies would have been boring; this is way better.

Well, that's it. It's no longer safe to go outside.

Festo has created a bionic robot that looks and acts like a real dragonfly, right down to the complex wing movements. According to the promotional materials:
With the BionicOpter, Festo has technically mastered the highly complex flight characteristics of the dragonfly. Just like its model in nature, this ultralight flying object can fly in all directions, hover in mid-air and glide without beating its wings.
In addition to controlling the flapping frequency and the twisting of the individual wings, each of the four wings features an amplitude controller. This means that the direction of thrust and the  intensity of thrust for all four wings can be adjusted individually, thus enabling the remote-controlled dragonfly to move in almost any orientation in space. The intelligent kinematics correct any vibrations during flight and ensure flight stability both indoors and outdoors.
This project is the result of collaboration between the company and learning institutions, called the Bionic Learning Network, whose focus is "developing and supporting projects and test models whose basic technical principles are derived from nature."

So this means that between the Harvard RoboBees, exploding fireflies in GI Joe Retaliation and these actual flying robotic dragonflies, we can't even trust the insects anymore.

Ok, maybe not quite. It turns out that the video is somewhat deceiving about the actual size of these things. Before you start checking all the dragonflies you see out on your hike for mechnical joints, you might want to see this:

Remote control BionicOpter by Festo
So they're not tiny Skynet spies, they're TOYS! Granted, super advanced toys with lots of smart ultralightweight materials including carbon fiber, thin foil, flexible polyamide and terpolymer. And responsive mechanics for stabilization, allow it to monitor its own performance and self-adjust on the fly. (If you want all the technical details — they really are kewl! — check out the specs.)

All of this begs two important questions:
  • Where can I buy one and for how much?
  • How long til someone figures out the design and posts the blueprints so we can 3D print one?!
Check out the mesmerizing flight capabilities. Tech is awesome.

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