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Dragonfly drone beats wings, flies backward like the real thing

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Dragonfly-inspired drone Festo BionicOpter
Dragonfly-inspired drone Festo BionicOpter

Amid the growing swarm of small commercial drones being launched into the skies these days, Festo's new dragonfly-inspired BionicOpter truly stands out. Equipped with four independently adjustable, motorized wings made from carbon fiber and foil, the ultra-lightweight craft (less than a third of a pound) is capable of flying backwards, moving laterally, hovering in place, and gliding. Essentially, it seeks to combine the best features of a helicopter and a glider, and is controlled via a smartphone interface.

"For the first time, there is a model that can master more flight conditions than a helicopter, plane and glider combined," Festo boasts in its brochure for the BionicOpter. Visually, the craft looks uncannily like an oversized version of the real insect, with a body of about 19 inches long and a wingspan of just over 27 inches. Check it out in action in a video Festo released yesterday.

Festo, a German firm that claims to lead the world in pneumatic and electrical automation technology, is set to debut the BionicOpter at the Hannover Messe technology fair in Hanover, Germany, from April 8 through 12. Festo hasn't yet released pricing or availability details, but The Verge has reached out to the company and will update when we hear back.