Science

The Story of the Microrobotic Fly

Posted 20 Mar 2008 at 19:17 UTC by steve Share This

John Fisher sent a link to a new IEEE Spectrum story on insect-based flying robots. The IEEE story was written by Robert Wood of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab and includes more detail than usual on how the little robots work. The Harvard Lab has been developing the tiny robot, based on the housefly, for over a decade. There is still much work to do but the robot has actually flown, using an external power supply. The inventors envision a day when hundreds of robot bugs will be released over disaster sites to search for survivors by detecting their body heat or the carbon dioxide of their breath. The tiny robots have a wingspan of 3cm and weigh 60mg. For now though, the military is likely to be only user, because the small robots come with a big price: $100,000 each. Wood predicts mass produced insect robots could cost as little as $10 each someday. For more see the IEEE robotic-insect slideshow or video of the robot fly doing it's thing (MPEG format).

Hurdles, posted 21 Mar 2008 at 12:32 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

Looks like they have a lot to overcome to achieving self-contained flight. They still need to incorporate a power source (battery) and a flight system (cpu), both of which won't come cheap or light by conventional means. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with. As it is, they want $100k for each one. Yikes!

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