Meet the BionicOpter, a 17.3 inch long bionic dragonfly drone that manoeuvres in all directions, glides without having to beat its wings and hovers in the air just like its biological brothers and sisters.
A dragonfly’s ability to move their wings independently enables them to slow down and turn abruptly, to accelerate swiftly and even fly backwards. With the BionicOpter, creators Festo have applied these characteristics to an ultra-lightweight flying object.
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.
The unique flight behaviour is made possible by its lightweight design, the integration of its sensors, actuators and mechanical components as well as communication, open and closed-loop control systems are installed in a very small space and are connected to one another.
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.
With a wingspan of just 70 cm and a body length of 48 cm, the model dragonfly weighs 175 grams. The wings consist of a carbon fibre frame and a thin foil covering. The structure is made of flexible polyamide and terpolymer which makes the entire system flexible and ultralight, but still sturdy. The small ribcage houses the battery, nine servo motors and a high-performance ARM microcontroller, all installed in the smallest of spaces just like the sensors and wireless modules.
Up and down, forwards, backwards and side to side, the flapping wing design of the dragonfly enables it to fly in all directions in space and hover in mid-air just like a helicopter. Unlike a helicopter, however, the dragonfly does not need to tilt forwards to generate forward thrust. This means that it can fly horizontally as well as float like a glider.
The dragonfly drone is controlled with an app which can be installed on your smart phone or tablet, during operation the remote-control system simply transfers the signals that tell the object which direction to fly in and at what speed. The microcontroller calculates all the parameters that can be adjusted mechanically based on the recorded flight data and the pilot’s input. Pricing and availability have not yet been made available by Festo.