I'm sure this robotic swallowtail butterfly serves a scientific purpose. But whatever contribution it's making to biomimetics is far outweighed by the elegance of this slow-motion video catching it in action. Hold me closer, tiny dragon.
Okay, the science is pretty cool too. The little guy was made by Hiroto Tanaka and Isao Shimoyama to investigate how butterflies, well, fly. While birds use feathers to achieve lift, butterflies rely on constant flapping. According the study:
During the flights, the artificial butterfly's body moved up and down passively in synchronization with the flapping, and the artificial butterfly followed an undulating flight trajectory like an actual swallowtail butterfly. Without feedback control of the wing motion, the body movement is directly affected by change of aerodynamic force due to the wing deformation; the degree of deformation was determined by the wing venation.
So: one small step for understanding swallowtail butterfly aerodynamics. One giant leap for engrossing black and white slow-motion robot butterfly videos. [IOP Science via Dvice]