It's no secret that technology, such as 3D printing and drones, can revolutionise manufacturing and other industries. German-based Festo, for instance, has just invented something which proves just that. It used 3D printers to manufacturer flying drones that resemble butterflies.
Called eMotionButterflies, the robotic butterfly drones rely on several cameras and infrared markers, which make up an intelligent networking and monitoring system, to coordinate and basically fly together. Each butterfly weighs 32 grams and features an aerodynamic split wing, mechanical system, and functional integration, among other things, all of which allows them to mimic "true-to-nature" flying behavior.
Although the butterflies are light and outsource their visual analysis capabilities to a series of cameras, they're interconnected system allows them to navigate a room without crashing into walls, objects, or even each other. Festo unveiled them during an online press conference at this week's Hannover Messe 2015, and as part of the demo, the butterflies were unleashed in the lobby of Festo headquarters.
Festo said this same technology, including its simulated collective behavior, could be tweaked and used in a "networked factory of the future" . The butterflies aren't for sale though, as they were were developed for research purposes. The general idea, however, is that factories could use similar technology to make drone workers that could coordinate and accomplish tasks together.
Watch the video above to see the eMotionButterflies in action. Apart from the butterfly drones, Festo also made ants called BionicANT. They're just a little more than 5 inches in length, weigh about one ounce apiece, and sport a small video camera.