Robo Insect Flight

Posted on July 20, 2007  Comments (5)

photo of flying robot on a hand

Robotic Insect Takes Off

“Nature makes the world’s best fliers,” says Robert Wood, leader of Harvard’s robotic-fly project and a professor at the university’s school of engineering and applied sciences.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding Wood’s research in the hope that it will lead to stealth surveillance robots for the battlefield and urban environments. The robot’s small size and fly-like appearance are critical to such missions. “You probably wouldn’t notice a fly in the room, but you certainly would notice a hawk,” Wood says.

Recreating a fly’s efficient movements in a robot roughly the size of the real insect was difficult, however, because existing manufacturing processes couldn’t be used to make the sturdy, lightweight parts required. The motors, bearings, and joints typically used for large-scale robots wouldn’t work for something the size of a fly. “Simply scaling down existing macro-scale techniques will not come close to the performance that we need,” Wood says.

Cool. How annoying are those pop up ads after you follow the link though? Extremely yucky usability.

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5 Responses to “Robo Insect Flight”

  1. Free SMS Andy
    July 23rd, 2007 @ 8:09 am

    Cool, it’s like something off Alias (Jen Garner show). Must be incredibly expensive…

    Haha I like your math question spam proofing – there are probably quite a few less mathematically minded people who’ll get it wrong

  2. Spanish for Engineers
    July 26th, 2007 @ 4:57 pm

    Oh great, bugs already freak me out, let alone mechanical ones controlled by the government.

  3. CuriousCat: Roachbot: Cockroach Controlled Robot
    December 9th, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

    “Roaches are gross. Robots are good. But — cockroach-controlled robots?”

  4. CuriousCat: Robot Water Striders
    December 10th, 2007 @ 8:33 pm

    “Walking on water may seem like a miracle to humans. But it is a humdrum achievement for the little water strider, which is able to bounce up and down on water too…”

  5. Anonymous
    January 20th, 2009 @ 10:05 am

    I was present at a recent demonstration for a “micro-bot” by a private contractor. Simply amazing how the flight patterns of the bot accurately mimicked the random directional flight of the real thing.

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