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Jeff Bezos and robo-dragonfly
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos prepares to unleash the robo-dragonfly. (Jeff Bezos via Instagram)

Find someone who looks at you the way Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos looks at the robotic dragonfly that’s buzzing around his head at this week’s MARS conference.

MARS is Amazon’s annual invitation-only event focusing on Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space. This year’s attendees range from researchers and entrepreneurs in all those fields to celebrities like “Star Wars” legend Mark Hamill and veteran astronauts including Mike Massimino and Story Musgrave. (Astronauts attend for free.)

This week marks the fourth annual MARS gathering, which has now given rise to an open-to-the-public spinoff called “re:MARS.” The first re:MARS conference is planned for June 4-7 in Las Vegas, with a $1,999 admission charge.

Lots of weighty subjects are addressed at MARS, but Bezos says the most important metric for judging success is to “have some fun.”

He certainly seems to follow that precept in the clip from last night that he shared on Twitter and Instagram. Earlier in the day, we got a peek at the BionicOpter that Germany’s Festo AG designed to fly like (and look like) an oversized dragonfly — but during the onstage event, Bezos and the bug dominated the spotlight.

The scene has the potential to rank right up there with other MARS moments, such as last year’s robo-dog walk, or 2017’s giant robot with Bezos at the controls.

In the workaday world, BionicOpter is meant to be used to provide sensor data continuously from the air, via a wireless connection. But at The Parker Resort in Palm Springs, the purpose appears to be purely to have some fun.

Bezos released the BionicOpter to take a few spins around his head, and then the dragonfly’s keeper gracefully grabbed the dragonfly from the air.

“You’re good at catching it,” Bezos said. “You’ve done that before.”

Afterward, the billionaire registered one request: “Thank you @FestoAG, but bigger please…. I want to get on!”

Bezos did get on a bigger flying machine during a MARS outing to the Palm Springs Air Museum. He sat in the single seat on Lift Aircraft’s Hexa ultralight passenger drone, which could show up in Seattle one of these days. But that’s another story.

The myriad highlights from Monday’s MARS session make for another story as well. Check out our roundup of tweets from the first day, featuring visual dispatches from Arizona State University planetary scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton. And check out this fresh batch of tweets from today’s MARS goings-on:

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