Harvard scientists demonstrate first "Flight of the Robobee"
Friday, May 03, 2013 - 01:11
May 3 - Scientists at Harvard University have demonstrated the first controlled flight of an insect-sized robot drone. Called Robobee, the machine was designed to mimic flying insects for use in a number of fields including environmental research and search-and-rescue operations. Rob Muir has more.
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It's called Robobee. It's half the size of a paper clip and weighs less than a tenth of a gram.
Robobee's evolution began ten years ago in a laboratory at the Harvard School of Engineering. But last year, its developers finally got their insect-inspired robot to fly.
Robobee's anatomy is built on a submillimetre scale. It's kept aloft with ceramic wings that can be controlled independently, expanding and contracting at 120 beats per second when exposed to an electric field.
It's inventors say Robobee could be used for environmental monitoring, search-and-rescue operations, or to help with crop pollination.
But first, they want to develop miniature fuel cells that will allow their robot to fly untethered and an onboard mechanical brain that will allow for more efficient remote control.
The researchers called this first flight, the "Flight of the Robobee", representing several breakthroughs in manufacturing, materials, and design.
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