Five years ago, French aeronautical engineer Edwin Van Ruymbeke successfully crowdfunded his Bionic Bird – it's a remote-control model that flies by flapping its wings, just like a real bird. Now he's back, with the insect-inspired MetaFly.
Reminiscent of the bioinspired robots made by Festo, the MetaFly weighs less than 10 grams (0.35 oz), is 19 cm long (7.5 in), and has a 29-cm (11.4-in) wingspan. The wing-flapping is handled by a mechanical coreless motor (with an aluminum heat sink), which is in turn powered by a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery.
That battery is charged by docking the MetaFly with the included 2-channel radio remote control unit, drawing current from that device's four AA batteries. One 15-minute charge should be good for eight minutes of flight time, with 15 flights possible on one set of the remote's batteries. Users can also opt for a separate 1,500-mAh power bank, which reportedly manages 20 12-minute charges before needing a recharge of its own.
The remote has a maximum range of 100 meters (328 ft). Top airspeed for the MetaFly is 18 km/h (11 mph).
Crashing the thing is claimed not to be a problem, as its "head," legs and wings are all flexible – the wings are made of carbon fiber, liquid crystal polymer, and oriented polypropylene. Flight characteristics can be altered by tweaking the angle of the tail.
Should you be interested, the MetaFly is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of €69 (about US$78) will get you one, when and if they reach production. The planned retail price is €129 ($146).
You can see it in flight, on YouTube.
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