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Entopia Design Challenge

Entopia, rebranded from the Penang Butterfly Farm, is the world's first butterfly, dragonfly, and firefly sanctuary park. The park houses over 15,000 butterflies from about 100 species. Apart from exhibition, Entopia also exports pupae oversea. For more than several decades, the butterfly industry relies on manual labor on daily basis to identify and sort pupae for exhibition or export purpose. Feeding the butterflies are also done manually. Automating some of the tasks will enhance the cost efficiency and reduce tedious manual process.

Participants can take up one or more of the following five catogories of the Entopia Design Challenge.

For more than several decades, the butterfly industry uses manual labor on daily basis to setup and display the butterfly pupae for exhibition. The manual process requires good eyesight for species identification, and is time consuming as pupae collected can be in the thousands.

To design and develop a pupae setter machine that is able to autonomously perform the following upon accepting bulk quantity of pupae:
  1. identify individual pupa according to its species
  2. perform counting and sorting of pupae
  3. properly align each pupa’s direction
  4. attach the right amount of glue to each pupa at a specific part of the pupa
  5. set all the pupae to the display bar at fixed-width intervals

For many decades, the butterfly industry uses manual labor on a daily basis to handle the packing of live butterfly pupae for export to other countries. The process requires good eyesight for quality control and identification of species. The pupae are packed according to standard and procedure, which requires several workers due to the limited time frame given to pack. Illustration of the process is shown in the link.

To design an autonomous packing machine that accepts various species of pupae in bulk quantity and pack them according to standard and procedure, including preparation of packing materials. The machine must be able to:
  1. identify individual pupa according to its species
  2. perform counting and sorting of pupae
  3. prepare, cut, and lay the packing material, layer by layer, with rows of pupae to be inserted
  4. perform layer tagging of species name
  5. pack pupae into boxes of several sizes according to user set quantity for each shipment

While exhibiting adult winged butterflies in a butterfly habitat garden, adult butterflies are given artificial food solution as supplement on a tray of flowers. The food solution needs to be replenished manually from time to time. The process relies on available flowers, is clumsy, and attracts pest such as ants to the food solution, which requires cleaning and pest control.

To design and develop an adult butterfly food dispenser for the purpose of public display that:
  • does not rely on flowers, but using an artificial method which would still attract the butterflies
  • is able to self-replenish the food solution upon detection of low or dried up food solution
  • accepts a bulk amount of food solution that can last for longer periods
  • prevents pest from entering the display and dispenser

The butterfly industry has become advanced to the point where certain countries may permit only specific gender of live butterfly pupae to be imported. Furthermore, pupae that has been attacked by parasites or deformed are also avoided from export as part of quality control. This entire process of identification is done under a microscope and is very tedious to the eyes of the worker having to identify and sort hundreds of butterfly pupae on daily basis.

To design a fully automated quality control system that is able to accept bulk quantity of unsorted pupae for:
a) detecting the gender and species of each butterfly pupae
b) detecting any parasite infected pupae
c) detecting any deformed pupae
d) sorting and counting pupae according to a QC table and specifications

Entomologists and conservationists use insects such as butterflies as bio‐indicators of the health and ecology within a forest or jungle. Most butterflies perform flight activities as part of their behavior. Entomologists also spend long periods of time studying butterflies in their habitats and may take decades finding clues about each species at a specific habitat. Often, changes have already taken place and may be too late to report findings, e.g. to save a forest or even the butterfly species itself. Without any technological aid, during a sighting of a wild adult butterfly, entomologists may find it difficult to identify the butterfly species without first catching the butterfly, because most adult butterflies in the wild fly in high speed and try to avoid predators. Therefore, it is very difficult to identify its species correctly without spending time chasing it, waiting for it to rest and sometimes catching it. Catching the butterfly is usually not the intention of the entomologist but often just to perform research such as using all the available species data over time as assessment of the change in the surrounding ecology. So before any research can be done, the researchers first need to identify the sighted species correctly.

To design a system whereby without catching the butterfly, the system is able to detect the species of adult butterfly according to a database, at least through its wing patterns that can be captured through live viewing, recording, remote viewing, etc. Importantly, the system must be able to:
  • identify the butterfly while the butterfly is flying
  • identify the butterfly while it is resting whereby its wings may be opened or closed
  • identify the butterfly through the pattern of the wings, whether upper or under side
  • provide a probability report of species (as some species are highly similar in pattern)


Entopia, a tropical sanctuary for our planet’s little denizens from those that fly freely in the sky to the ones that creep stealthily beneath the ground.

Journey into a magical paradise that honours the unsung heroes of our natural world with plenty to discover from outdoor adventures to cavernous mysteries and a multi-storey Indoor Discovery Centre. Live the moment with exciting interactive workshops and activities. There’s something for everyone.

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