Advancements in the field of robotics can never come to an end.Technological progress lead to the invention of new robots which helped humans to ease the complex tasks done by them.Even bio-robotics i.e,creation of robots by imitating biological creatures, gained momentum with recent developments like robotic snake,robotic jelly fish,dragon flies etc.
Another such creation called Robo-Bee,a small robot that can hover on the spot, take off vertically and steer is developed by the scientists from the University of Harvard,USA. A team led by graduate students Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon at Harvard Microbiotics has created this tiny, housefly-sized robots for the purpose of studying insect flight.
With required equipment and by loading the object with lot of energy to power the flight,it is easy to make something big and heavy to fly.But when things get smaller,the challenges get bigger,it is really hard to equip all the parts into small built.But by using different approaches to propulsion, manufacturing and actuation the tiny robot can imitate its biological counter part.
Made from carbon fibre,Robo-Bee is roughly the size of a fly which is capable of performing quick movements just like a real insects.These robots are not much bigger than a coin and can perform basic maneuvers.The power and control are handled by an external source and these artificial insects are capable of flying with their own power for few minutes if provided with a right power storage.
“This is what I have been trying to do for literally the last 12 years.It’s because of this lab’s recent breakthroughs in manufacturing, materials, and design that we have even been able to try this. And it just worked, spectacularly well,“Robert J. Wood, principal investigator of the National Science Foundation-supported RoboBee project, said in a statement.
Usually large robots run on electromagnetic motors,but in this small model,scientists needed an alternative and used piezecoeltric actuators-a strips of ceramic,that expand and contract under electric field.
These coin sized robots has fiber body in which the system stores its control system which commands the rotational flapping motion of the wings and the robo-bee is provided with two thin transparent wings,each controlled independently which flap about 120 times per second and can hover about 20 seconds before crashing.
Small,off-board power sources are used to power the robot and the insect uses around 19 milliwatts of electricity during flight.A power cable is provided which is necessary to stay until other solutions can be found for a portable high energy-density fuel that is strong and at the same time light enough to provide a smooth flight.
To further improve the prototype,experts are studying real-world insects for clues.And according to the scientists,the complex project does not have to be repeated again and again.
The team is planning to build reliable prototypes and once the robotic insect design reaches perfection and then they will be able to mass produce the artificial insects,which are helpful in rescue operations,with a fully automated process.