Israel's Robotic Butterfly Drone Flies Indoors

This small butterfly is a mechanical drone weighing just 20 grams. It can take color pictures, fly around inside buildings and is capable of vertical take-off - it can even hover in place.

(From Israel's drone butterfly)

The insect-drone, with its 0.15-gram camera and memory card, is managed remotely with a special helmet. Putting on the helmet, you find yourself in the “butterfly’s cockpit” and virtually see what the butterfly sees – in real time.

“The butterfly’s advantage is its ability to fly in an enclosed environment. There is no other aerial vehicle that can do that today,” Dubi Binyamini, head of IAI’s mini-robotics department, told Israel Hayom.

The virtually noiseless “butterfly” flaps its four wings 14 times per second. Almost translucent, it looks like an overgrown moth, but is still smaller than some natural butterflies.

This is bio-mimicry, when technology imitates nature. And this has proved to hide a trap. When the device was tested at a height of 50-meters, birds and flies tended to fall behind the device arranging into a flock.

The IAI, Israel’s major aerospace and aviation manufacturer, needs two more years to polish their “butterfly” project.

Technovelgy readers of course recall the amazing Scarab robot flying insect from Raymond Z. Gallun's 1936 classic The Scarab. The scarab robot even had "minute vision tubes" that allowed the operator to pilot it remotely.

I should also point out that Roger Zelazny mentions an artificial butterfly in his 1980 novel Changeling.

Here are a few other examples from sf, the literature of ideas:

  • Blurbflies
    From Jeff Noon's Nymphomation (2000); these are the perfect disinformation and propaganda devices.
  • Bee Cam
    From Karen Travis' City of Pearl (2004); this is just what you want for autonomous surveillance.
  • Aerostat Monitor
    From Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age (1995), these tiny devices kept a watch on the borders.
Via RT.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/20/2012)

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