What do you call tiny flying robots that undoubtedly emit a buzzing noise as they pass by? Mosquitoes are universally hated, as are wasps, so the logical name is RoboBees.
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has been cooking up these extremely impressive tiny robots in their Microrobotics lab. The swarms use piezoelectric actuators to produce the mechanical force to drive the wings, which can be independently controlled.This isn’t the first time we’ve looked in on the Robobees, but the most recent news revealed the ability to swim, and dive (term used generously) into water.
This may not sound like much, but previously the robots lacked the ability to break the surface tension of water. To sink, the wings need a coating of surfactant. Once submerged, the bots lack the ability to transition back from water to air. But we won’t be surprised to see that ability added as a feature while the scope of the project continues to creep. So yes, you can jump into water to escape bees but not to escape Robobees.
Diving isn’t the only wonder to behold. The ‘head’ of the RoboBee is utterly fascinating. It’s constructed by folding the PCB into a pyramid like structure, 4 sides of the head include a photo-transistor covered by a diffused lens which the bot uses for self positioning by sensing changes between the bright light of the sky and absence thereof below the horizon. This concept is taken directly from biological self-righting systems found on the head of most insects, however Harvard’s version has one more sensor than the stock 3 seen on insects. Take that, nature!
12 thoughts on “Harvard’s Microrobotic Lab Sinks RoboBees And Claims It Was On Purpose”
As the great Muhammad Ali once said, “Float like a butterfly, swim like a bee.”
“Float like a float bot, sting like an automated stinging machine.” – Bender Rodríguez
That’s how it was.
if they can scale it up a bit, they could have a really good hummingbird bot
They look biological enough to me, that seeing one trapped on the surface by the surface tension almost makes me feel sorry.
Where can we get the piezos that are suitable for this type of thing?
Custom made I’m afraid…a lot of universities have to the tools to cut and cleave their own crystals…
Now they are waiting for the other team to finish their job, i mean, the team working on the battery
The battery team will be finished long before the marketing team work out who the hell would want one and why.
Obviously you haven’t been reading Facebook. They will be sold by corporations at high prices after Monsanto has wiped out all the real bees with GMOs/Roundup.
“Government” “Spying”, there, took 2 seconds.
Now all they need is a little sub-millimeter wave tesla coil and they can get rid of the tether. Put an LED on the nose of the “bee” and release 1000’s of them and you can have a 3D display :D
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