Though they seem to move through the air with the individual, fluttery ease of their insect counterparts, these eMotionButterflies by Festo are made from ultralight materials and are networked to fly with a collective behavior in a three dimensional space. Watch as they share the Festo Headquarters airspace without any collisions.

In order to replicate their natural role model as closely as possible, the artificial butterflies feature highly integrated on-board electronics. They are able to activate the wings individually with precision and thereby implement the fast movements…

Ten infrared cameras installed in the space record the butterflies using two active markers (infrared LEDs). The cameras transmit the position data to a central master computer, which acts like an air traffic controller and coordinates the butterflies from outside.

The bionic butterflies are surprisingly not the products themselves, but are instead a test bed for showcasing how coordinated systems can work together seamlessly. Watch another 2015 tech demonstration of Festo’s highly-integrated, nature-based behaviors: These BionicANTs work cooperatively to accomplish a common task.

Related videos: Butterflies, ants, and more incredible biomimicry from Festo.

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