Since the early days of our existence, humans have always been jealous of flying animals. From bugs to birds, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to copy organisms who have the ability to defy gravity. Our modern planes, helicopters, and yes, even drones are our best attempts to recreate nature’s engineering, but none have come close to the beauty of a real bird in flight – until now. Osaka-based Flapping Wing Production Studio recently released a video of their latest invention: an ultralight orinthopter (a craft that flies by flapping its wings.) Built using simple materials and mechanical parts made with a 3D printer, “Meganeuropsis” is one of the largest orinthopters to complete a successful flight.

Meganeuropsis, Orinthopter, drone, helicopter, dragonfly, 3D printing, Makerbot Replicator, Japan,

The studio decided to name the craft Meganeuropsis, after the meganeura, a prehistoric dragonfly. The orinthopter lacks some of the dragonfly’s gracefulness, but there’s no denying the resemblance.

This new model is larger than any other flapping-wing drone they’ve created yet, and Fast Co. reports that “most of the gears and parts were printed out of a desktop Makerbot Replicator 2.0 at FabLab Kitakagaya, a citizen maker lab in Osaka.” Even with the 50mAhLi-po battery attached, Meganeuropsis only weighs 8.7 grams, lighter than any drone on the market.

One benefit of the orinthopter’s design is that the moveable wings can help prevent a disastrous “dead drop” which occurs when helicopters and fixed wing drones lose power. However, its ultralight design could be a drawback when contact with the ground is imminent, and makes it hard to add weighty equipment like cameras. But maybe that’s a good thing.

via Fast Co. Labs

Images via Flapping Wing Production Studio