It is the first autonomous, free-flying and agile flapping-wing robot. It has improved the understanding of how fruit flies control aggressive escape maneuvers. It flaps its wings 17 times a second, has a top speed of 25 km/h and can even perform aggressive manoeuvres, such as 360-degree flips. It has a 33 cm wingspan and weighs 29 grams. It can hover for 5 minutes and has a 1 km flight range on a fully charged battery.
It is developed by TU Delft researchers from the Micro Air Vehicle Laboratory (MAVLab). The manoeuvres performed by the robot closely resembled those observed in fruit flies. The robot was even able to demonstrate how fruit flies control the turn angle to maximize their escape performance.
The MAVLab has been developing insect-inspired flying robots for over 10 years within the DelFly project. Apart from being a novel, autonomous micro-drone, the robot's flight performances, combined with its programmability also make it well suited for research into insect flight.