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Breakthrough in miniature flying device dubbed “RoboBee”

Posted at 7:53 AM, May 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-03 08:09:51-04

(WTVR) — An electronic creation over a decade in the making is coming to life for researchers at Harvard University.

Inspired by the biology of a fly, the “Robobee” pushes the limits of miniature robotics and what some might consider a miniature drone. The flying device is half the size of a paper clip and it weighs less than a tenth of a gram.

Now researchers have had successful flights of robot and are excited for its potential applications. According to a Harvard University website dedicated to the “RoboBee,” they hope the device can one day be used for pollinating field crops, search and rescue, hazardous environment exploration, military surveillance, weather and climate mapping and traffic monitoring.

The ultimate goal is that the robots will be able to work together in groups large and small, mimicking insect behavior.

The wings of the “RoboBee” flap at about 120 times per second with a wing span of about three centimeters. And the entire device is still tethered by a thin power cable which also helps to control the device. So far a solution hasn’t been found for adding a power supply to the insect like robot.

Work on the “RoboBee” is led by the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.