The butterfly is one of nature's most graceful creations, but with upgrades from Festo, this robotic doppleganger is better equipped to navigate large spaces. It might flap and flutter like the real thing, but this butterfly is 100 per cent artificial—although the branding on the wings probably gave that away.
Festo showed off a small swarm of its robotic butterflies flying laps around the company's headquarters. To keep them tiny, lightweight, and airborne, the bots don't actually have any on-board sensors. Instead, twelve cameras placed around the room kept track of each butterfly using a unique infrared marker on each one.
The data from those cameras was processed by a central computer which then provided instructions to each robot on where to go so it appeared as if they were navigating the space all by themselves. So in reality the demo was an entire system at work, which means these robot butterflies aren't quite ready to be released into the wild just yet. But zoos and museums might soon be able to upgrade their butterfly conservatories. [Festo via Gizmag]