Robot Butterfly

Robot Butterfly is a companion robot to appreciate the elegance of nature with, while observing all the details — no matter how tiny or inconspicuous!

Perfect for intermediate makers, and ideal for beginners looking to advance their skills.

Available now, join our inaugural cohort.

Custom fully-assembled art piece tailored to your preferences are available to order.


The Robot Butterfly kit offers more than the joy of building a cool robot — it’s an immersive community experience! Welcome to our inaugural cohort. Together, we will hands-on build the robot and connect on Discord to share our progress, troubleshoot issues, and support one another throughout the build. Join us and be part of this exciting journey. :) Please note that Robot Butterfly Kit will cost $150 CAD plus shipping and taxes. You will be able to choose which colour of wings you want from a selection. :)

Robot Butterfly workshop at Open Hardware Summit 2024! The cohort will be a similar experience, but with more work sessions and held on Discord.


With the Robot Butterfly kit, you'll create a charming companion that flaps its wings and sparkles in response to its sensors. The kit includes motors, sensors, a circuit board, and a 3D printed enclosure. You'll solder through-hole components onto the circuit board, assemble the enclosure with fasteners, and attach the wings. Experience the magic of bringing a robot to life as you put all the pieces together. The microcontroller is programmable through the Arduino IDE with additional code available for future tinkering. Once assembled, simply press the buttons to activate party mode! 😎 PS: A holographic wing sticker is included too!


  • Soldering a circuit board
  • Assembling pieces
  • Programming a microcontroller
  • Handling 3D printed pieces
  • Discovering details in nature
  • Connecting with online community

Community at a Glance


chrysalis hatched


observations in nature


community participants

Technical Information

View larger image


  • Microcontroller: ESP32-WROOM
  • Power: 2x AA batteries or USB-C
  • Sensors: MPU6050 6-DOF IMU, HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor, DHT11 temperature & humidity, Photocell ambient light levels, 2x tactile buttons
  • Actuators: 2x 9g Servo motors
  • Indicators: Buzzer for sound, Neopixel RGB lights, two status LEDs, RX/TX LEDs, and power LED
  • User-programmable with Arduino IDE, sample code provided
  • Footprint for additional pins and peripherals provided
  • Open source available at the following repositories: Robot Butterfly, Boostlet!, Keystone

Open Source Hardware

Robot Butterfly's design files are released as open source hardware, provided under these unique terms:

If you replicate it, please take a photo of it in nature and email it to me with the city and its nickname!

The quotes on the circuit board are dedicated to a loved one ☺️

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Open Hardware Summit

Open Hardware Summit 2024 instructions here:

Thank you to the workshop participants for joining this workshop!

Thank you to the following people who helped with the production of the Robot Butterflies! Jason, Bradley, KMx Laser Cutting, family members.

Thank you to the following people for assistance at the conference! Lee, Sid, Brittany, Christine, Anu, Darcy.

Union Gallery

Robot Butterfly was on exhibit June 13 – August 5, 2023 as a part of the Gentle Disruptions exhibit at Union Gallery at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, curated by Vince Ha.

Artwork Statement

Do robot butterflies dream of electric snails? Robot Butterfly is analogous to its bio-inspired counterpart, with extra flair. Luminescence twinkles and wing movements change based on the proximity of a person or object in front of it. After plenty of interaction, dance mode is activated. This is where the robot diverges from nature — both wings moving in opposite directions in a fast yet subtle glitchy behaviour, luminescence akin to a disco, and its motors making a cacophony of melodic mechatronic sounds!

The wings of the butterfly are 3D printed in an iridescent material, reflecting different colours depending on the viewing angle. A variety of wings accompany the Robot Butterfly, each with different patterns unique to 3D printing, such as gyroid and concentric circles. Combined with the material effects, the wings create a compelling visual piece for the viewer.

When viewers see this artwork, they will reflect on how future technologies can harness inspiration from nature, and go further in creative new ways. It will also show the viewer how technology attempts to fill the void of the impermanence of nature, as butterflies migrate each year, yet technology has a vastly different implementation.

Prototype Photos

Nature Information

How exactly does Robot Butterfly enable one to appreciate nature even more?

It's our hypothesis that a companion robot can significantly enhance your ability to relax and immerse yourself in nature by enriching the sensory and emotional experiences. Additionally, there’s the pride in sharing this experience with something that you built with your own hands.

If our hypothesis is wrong though, there's a power-off switch on the Robot Butterfly to make sure it won't be a distraction and counter-productive. :)

Mindful Interaction with Nature

  • Flora and Fauna Interaction: The robot can interact with the plants and animals you encounter, fostering a deeper appreciation and understanding of the natural world
  • Ecological Insights: It can share insights into the local ecosystem when shared with our community, helping you feel more connected and aware of the environment
  • Environmental Data Collection: It can gather data on weather conditions, and additional sensor peripherals such as soil moisture, and explain their significance in the context of the ecosystem

Companionship and Connection with Community

  • Virtual Companion: The robot can provide companionship during solo nature walks, engaging in conversation and enhancing your experience with interesting interactions with nature
  • Supportive Presence: Simply having the robot present can provide a sense of security and companionship, allowing you to relax more fully and be more comfortable
  • Shared Experiences: The robot can facilitate virtual connections with friends in our community, allowing you to share your nature experience and enhance your emotional well-being

Interactive Relaxation Techniques

  • Creative Activities: Creative activities such as photography or poetry inspired by the natural surroundings with the robot
  • Hydration and Nutrition Reminders: The robot can remind you to stay hydrated and suggest healthy snacks, with every flap of its wings based on the time of day, helping your physical well-being while you relax
  • Breathing Exercises: It can guide you through breathing exercises that promote relaxation, encouraging you to synchronize your breath with the rhythms of nature


Page last updated: May 30 2024 06:36:44.