Japanese researchers are probing the mechanics of insect flight by creating artificial butterflies. The above video shows a wooden contraption gracefully flapping its wings in high-speed footage.
Hiroto Tanaka of Harvard University and Isao Shimoyama of the University of Tokyo made the ornithopter out of balsa wood, polyurethane, and polymer film. It has the same mass and form as a swallowtail butterfly, including the planar shape of its wings.
The wings are powered by a crank mechanism. A rubber band is wound up to make the wings flap vertically at a frequency of 10Hz. It seems to fly for only … Read more