Drones

TechJect’s Dragonfly micro UAV flies like a bird and hovers like an insect

The TechJect Dragonfly fits in the palm of a hand
The TechJect Dragonfly fits in the palm of a hand
View 18 Images
The Dragonfly was inspired by its biological namesake
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The Dragonfly was inspired by its biological namesake
Prototype Dragonflies
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Prototype Dragonflies
The Dragonfly features a four-wing design
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The Dragonfly features a four-wing design
Only the Alpha model misses out on CVT
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Only the Alpha model misses out on CVT
The Dragonfly specs
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The Dragonfly specs
The Alpha model Dragonfly
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The Alpha model Dragonfly
The Delta model Dragonfly
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The Delta model Dragonfly
The Gamma model Dragonfly
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The Gamma model Dragonfly
The Omega model Dragonfly
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The Omega model Dragonfly
The Dragonfly will measure 15 cm (6 in) long
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The Dragonfly will measure 15 cm (6 in) long
A Dragonfly prototype in the wild
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A Dragonfly prototype in the wild
The Dragonfly can fly and hover
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The Dragonfly can fly and hover
The MARC-Basic flight computer used in the Alpha and Delta models
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The MARC-Basic flight computer used in the Alpha and Delta models
The MARC-2 flight computer used in the Gamma model adds a camera and Wi-Fi
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The MARC-2 flight computer used in the Gamma model adds a camera and Wi-Fi
The MARC-3 computer used in the top on the line Omega model boasts 20 onboard sensors
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The MARC-3 computer used in the top on the line Omega model boasts 20 onboard sensors
The TechJect Dragonfly
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The TechJect Dragonfly
The TechJect Dragonfly fits in the palm of a hand
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The TechJect Dragonfly fits in the palm of a hand
Computer image of the Dragonfly micro UAV
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Computer image of the Dragonfly micro UAV

Given their impressive flight capabilities, it's not surprising to see researchers turning to the world of flying insects for inspiration when developing new kinds of micro UAVs. With their ability to both fly at high speeds and hover, the dragonfly would seem an obvious candidate for biomimicry. But with the exception of the DelFly, we hadn't seen many attempts to model a micro UAV on the dragonfly's four wing design. That could be changing with a multi-disciplinary team from Georgia Tech having developed a robotic four-winged ornithopter called the TechJect Dragonfly that fits in the palm of a hand and combines the flight capabilities of a quadricopter, helicopter and fixed wing aircraft in one.

The TechJect Dragonfly is the culmination of four years of research and development at Georgia Tech, assisted by US$1 million in funding from the U.S. Air Force. TechJect is a spinoff out of Georgia Tech's Robotics & Intelligent Machines (RIM) Department that was created to bring the Dragonfly and other robotic flyers to market. To that end, the TechJect team has turned to crowdfunding site indiegogo to help get the Dragonfly off the ground.

As well as borrowing its wing design from its biological namesake, the Dragonfly is also similar in size, measuring 15 cm (6 in) long. It weighs around 25 g (0.88 oz) and is powered by a 250 mAh lithium polymer battery that provides hover times of 8-10 minutes and a hybrid (hover/flight) time of 25 to 30 minutes.

The Dragonfly features a four-wing design
The Dragonfly features a four-wing design

Designed with a focus on modular customization, the Dragonfly carries up to 20 onboard sensors to suit a variety of applications, from aerial photography, gaming, research and development, civilian security and military reconnaissance. The modular approach results in the availability of various flight control packages.

Alpha model

The Alpha model, which can be secured with a US$99 pledge (provided the funding goal is met) but is estimated to retail at $250 or more, comes with a MARC-Basic flight computer, solenoidal actuators, and flight accessories including a remote controller, battery and charger.

The Alpha model Dragonfly
The Alpha model Dragonfly

Delta model

The Delta model has the same MARC-Basic flight computer and flight accessories, but the solenoidal actuators are replaced with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which improves performance, particularly in terms of hovering. A spare set of wings is also included. The Delta can be had for a pledge of $179, with the retail price estimated to be around $500.

The Delta model Dragonfly
The Delta model Dragonfly

Gamma model

Aimed at R & D, prototyping and programming applications, the Gamma model sees the flight computer upgraded to the MARC-2 and adds a camera and Wi-Fi, so it can be controlled via a computer, iPhone or Android smartphone.The CVT found on the Delta also features on the Gamma, and the same flight accessories, along with a spare set of wings are also included. A pledge of $249 will secure the Gamma model, which is expected to retail for $750.

The Gamma model Dragonfly
The Gamma model Dragonfly

Omega model

The top line model is the Omega, which is powered by a more powerful MARC-3 flight computer that boasts 20 onboard sensors (including two cameras), and features a CVT and Wi-Fi. The familiar flight accessories and an extra set of wings are also included. The Omega requires a pledge of $399, with an expected price of $1,499 at retail.

The Omega model Dragonfly
The Omega model Dragonfly

All models are offered in blue, green, yellow, orange, red, black, white and silver color options and come with a fully customizable software development kit (SDK) for the creation of custom applications. However, TechJect will offer a number of free apps for iOS and Android devices and PCs. There will also be an online forum where users can share their custom apps and get development help from the TechJect team.

The Dragonfly's modular construction also allows the future upgrade of various components, such as the wings, actuators, and onboard electronics. These will be available through the TechJect website.

TechJect is looking to raise $110,000 via indigogo by the time the calendar ticks over to 2013. If it achieves its goal, TechJect aims to be delivering Dragonflies to pledge-makers from July, 2013.

The TechJect team gives an overview of the Dragonfly in the video below.

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Source: indiegogo via TechJect

The Robot Dragonfly

Update:

This article was amended on November 8, 2012, to include a reference to the DelFly.

18 comments
jaqen
looks cool, but until i see a bit more than computer generated images, I'm just a little bit skeptical. Even the video of it in action looks a little fake, and the people interviewed are holding a mockup that is quite a bit different from the cgi-version. Cool if true, but i suspect someone is having fun with the media
Edgar Castelo
Why can't it be upsized for personal transport?
Fishing Zebra
Dear jaqen, Wow!! You must be trolling. You do realise that the computer generated images are concept plans for the final product. It's how it's going to look when it hits market in 2013. The so-called "mockup", how you like to describe it, is a prototype one can clearly see flying in the demonstration video clip. I know this also could be computer generated, I'm not naive, but is it so hard to believe that after four years of research and hard work some clever people actually made it happen? It's one thing to be skeptical, but don't misplaced it with illogical reasoning.
cachurro
Still, I'd prefer 1 minute showing a half-baked full of potential real model than this chatting and cgi. They are not getting my money yet. Sorry.
yinfu99
Cool idea but fragile. If it performs as projected it will have many uses, I wonder however if something better isn't in the works or should be. You could design a spherical device with spinning outer ring to provide life and directional movement as needed, hovering, etc (picture a Snitch from Harry Potter-without the wings). Seems like that would be more durable, could fit in smaller places, uploaded with same options as video, gps, etc.
Fahrenheit 451
Seriously, this is frickin awesome!
Gregory Gannotti
I'll wait until they're $29.99 at Walmart or Target to get mine.
DemonDuck
Polished presentations with little real information always raise doubts in my mind. Great art department though....
99gusPuppet
No trolling is occurring here ..................... instead skepticism This looks like it could be a scam or over-enthusiasm ..... I have been guilty of that myself. I want to see an actual flying model and what the on-board video looks like while it is flying. What is the battery life profile ? What is the maximum speed ? The DF should have wireless charging so that it can return to it's base and recharge and then continue patrolling. Outdoors, the DF will probably be blown away by a moderate wind. The prices for the more advanced models are too high. Even at a high price... this could be wonderful if it works. Who knows these guys ? Have they built any kind of working prototype ? Best of Luck 99guspuppet 99uavdragonfly
jochair
I guess this is an RC device ? It can be captured with a butterfly net. The white wings make it way to visible, some camouflage would be nice. What is the flight-time and how long takes a recharge, Make sure you do not sell it to terrorists.