You’ve probably heard of micro-drones, perhaps even nano-drones, but there research institutions that shrink these machines down to the size of insects. Leading from the [Wiss Institute For Biologically Inspired Engineering] at Harvard University, a team of researchers have developed a miniscule robot that — after a quick dip — literally explodes out of the water.
To assist with the take off, RoboBee has four buoyant outriggers to keep it near the water’s surface as it uses electrolysis to brew oxyhydrogen in its gas chamber. Once enough of the combustible gas has accumulated — pushing the robot’s wings out of the water in the process– a sparker ignites the fuel, thrusting it into the air. As yet, the drone has difficulty remaining in the air after this aquatic takeoff, but we’re excited to see that change soon.
Looking like a cross between a water strider and a bee, the team suggest this latest version of the RoboBee series — a previous iteration used electrostatic adhesion to stick to walls — could be used for search and rescue, environmental monitoring, and biological studies. The capacity to transition from aerial surveyor, to underwater explorer and back again would be incredibly useful, but in such a small package, it is troublesome at best. Hence the explosions.
Continue reading “This Drone Can Fly, Swim, and Explode….. Wait, What?”
There’s a theory that the fear of scurrying things is genetic. Likewise, a similar theory arose about the tendency for humans to find helpless things cute. After all, our useless babies do best in a pest free environment. This all could explain why we found this robotic roach to be both a little cute and a little creepy.
The university sponsored project, JumpRoaCH, is a collaboration between South Korea’s SNU Biorobotics Lab and Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab. Imitating insects has been a popular avenue for robotic research, and often results in very interesting experiments.
This robot looks like a ladybug going through its rebellious teen phase. It runs on six hook shaped legs which allow it to traverse a wider array of surfaces than wheels would, at the expense of speed and higher vibrations. The robot does a very convincing, if wobbly, scurry across the surface of its test table.
It also has a secret attack in the form of a single Rockem Sockem Robot arm located on its belly. With a powerful burst, the arm can launch the robot up a few feet to a higher surface. If the robot lands on its wheels the researchers high-five. If the robot lands on its back, it can use its ,”wings,” to flip itself right-side-up again.
The resulting paper (PDF file) has a nice description of the robot and its clever jumping mechanism. At least if these start multiplying like roaches, hackers will never short for tiny motors for their projects. Video after the break.
Continue reading “JumpRoaCH is Kind Of Cute, Kind Of Creepy”
If you watch science fiction movies, the robots of the future look like us. The truth is, though, many tasks go better when robots don’t look like us. Sometimes they are unique to a particular job or sometimes it is useful to draw inspiration from something other than a human being. One professor at Johns Hopkins along with some students decided to look at spider crickets as an inspiration for a new breed of jumping robots.
Continue reading “Robots and Crickets”
It’s name is Blaberus Cranifer, or Death’s Head for short. Light has now been shed on this once secret project built by the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University for a “vague” Russian organization. The little guy has a 20 minute battery life and can carry a 10 gram payload. Which comes in handy when you want to sneak a camera into hard to reach places. Other requirements were for it to look and behave like a real live insect.
It’s an impressive project considering it was built from scratch in only seven months time. Its intricate gears and other mechanical features would require the hands of a skilled watch maker to construct. Alternatively, one can control live insects such as controlling a roach’s brain or hooking up some radio controls to a live beetle. But building robotic insects is still pretty cool.
Be sure to check out the well made video detailing some of the project’s build process.
Continue reading “Robotic Cockroach Built By Russian University”
Producing micro robotics is not yet easy or cost-effective, but why do we need to when we can just control the minds of cockroaches? A team or researchers from North Carolina State University is calling this augmented Madagascar Hissing cockroach an Insect Biobot in their latest research paper (PDF). It’s not the first time the subject has come up. There have already been proofs in research and even more amateur endeavors. But the accuracy and control seen in the video after the break is beyond compare.
The roach is being controlled to perfectly follow a line on the floor. One of the things that makes this iteration work so well is that the microcontroller includes a new type of ADC-based feedback loop for the stimulation of the insect brain. This helps to ensure that the roach will not grow accustom to the stimulation and stop responding to it. Since this variety of insect can live for about two years, this breakthrough makes it into a reusable tool. We’re not sure what that tool will be used for, but perhaps the next plague of insects will be controlled by man, and not mother nature.
Continue reading “Mind-controlling cockroaches”
[Fotoopa] keeps churning out new iterations of his laser-triggered camera rig. This is his latest, which he calls the 2011 setup. Regular readers will remember that we just covered a different version back in November; that one was the 2010 rendition. It had two DSLR cameras offset by 90 degrees with mirrors to face forward. This time around he has gone back to the single camera setup which was what he used on the first and second versions seen way back in 2008.
Whew, that’s a lot of links to specialty DSLR hardware. Let’s bring it back to this newest model (the link at the top). The biggest improvement is the shutter delay between when the laser beam is tripped and the image is take. [Fotoopa] reports that he’s managed to reduce that time down to 3.3 milliseconds. This is thanks to an external shutter replacement which improves on the stock shutter’s 52 millisecond delay.
For those that are seeing this for the first time. [Fotoopa] uses this rig to photograph insects in motion. A laser trip wire is responsible for triggering the shutter, and it does so with stunning results!
We’ve seen so many stories in the news about the growing plague of bedbugs. It kind of infuriates us because the spin of these “news” pieces is always that we’re going to have to live with these insects and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Bullcorn! [Ed Nisley] was dealt a bum hand in the form of a bedbug infestation but instead of losing his mind he used it to get himself out of the mess. One of the steps in the dis-insecting process was to develop a bedbug killing box that raises the contents above the kill temperature for the pests. He built an insulated chamber, with a grate to raise the target material off the bottom and allow for heat exchange around all edges of the item. Light bulb combinations of 60, 100, and 120 Watts were tested along with a fan for air circulation. He graphed the results and plans to use what he learned to build a more efficient heater for the box.
But the hot box isn’t his only defense. His household developed barriers, blocking the insects by height or with a sticky zone. Check out the collection of his bedbug posts and stop being afraid of these things! We can fight back and we can do it using common items and ingenuity.