Incredible video reveals the small solar-powered & # 39; RoboBEE & # 39; which folds its wings 170 times per second to stay up and can be used to follow the natural environment
- Researchers have built a new robot bug that is capable of free flight
- With a weight of only 259 milligrams, the insect is light enough to land on leaves
- RoboBee X-WingIt uses solar panels that are over its wings to collect its power
- The six small solar cells each weigh only 10 milligrams and are located above the wings in order not to hinder the flight
A lightweight insect robot has been created that can fly without being tied to a power source, using energy from light.
Incredible images show the RoboBee X-Wing powered by solar energy using four wings that flutter at a speed of 170 times per second instead of a propeller.
The robot was developed by a team from Harvard University and has a wingspan of 1.4 inches (3.5 centimeters) and can be used to monitor the environment.
Weighing just 259 milligrams, the insect is light enough to land on leaves and small enough to maneuver through confined spaces.
Wings are much better than propellers, but scientists struggle to replicate the natural control that insects and birds have.
HOW DO THE ROBO BEE SOLAR PANELS WORK?
The solar cells are connected to an electronics panel under the bee, which converts the low-voltage signals from the solar panels into high-voltage drive signals that are needed to drive the actuators.
The solar cells are about three centimeters above the wings to prevent interference.
In total, the last vehicle, with the solar cells and electronics, weighs 259 milligrams (about a quarter of a paper clip) and uses around 120 milliwatts of power, which is less than it would cost to ignite a single light bulb on a string of LED Christmas lights
Noah Jafferis and his colleagues suggest that if they can make wings work, the flying robots are more agile and quieter than any other man-made machine.
RoboBee uses solar panels that are over its wings to collect its own power, so no external power source is needed.
The wings are controlled by two muscle-like plates that contract when the tension passes through the
The six small solar cells each weigh only 10 milligrams and are located above the wings in order not to hinder the flight.
However, the panels require an intense amount of light to charge, three times the intensity of sunlight, which means that outdoor flying is currently impossible.
RoboBee normally flies about half a second before flying out of light.
Insect-based robots that have been microbatised to simulate winged flight are not a new idea.
A lightweight insect robot can fly without being tied to a power source, using energy from light. The RoboBee X-WingIt is solar powered and has four wings that fold at a speed of 170 times per second, instead of a propeller to take off
There have been earlier iterations of insect robots, including older versions of the RoboBee, but they are all connected by a lead to a power source.
& # 39; This is a result that has been in the making for decades & # 39 ;, said Robert Wood of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS and principal investigator of the RoboBee project in the research.
& # 39; Powering flight is something of a Catch-22 because the interaction between mass and power becomes extremely problematic at small scales where the flight is inherently inefficient.
& # 39; It doesn't help that even the smallest commercially available batteries weigh much more than the robot.
& # 39; We have developed strategies to meet this challenge by increasing vehicle efficiency, creating extremely light power circuits and integrating high-efficiency solar cells. & # 39;
The robot was developed by a team from Harvard University and has a wingspan of 3.5 centimeters and can be used to monitor the environment. Weighing just 259 milligrams, the insect is light enough to land on leaves and small enough to maneuver through confined spaces
The team hopes that the robot will be able to fly in normal sunlight and that measuring mechanisms are built in.
& # 39; It can then really determine what it does when flying around & # 39 ;, said Noah Jafferis, who led the study.
& # 39; It's very light because of its size, he says. & # 39; If you were to land on a blade, you could, while a commercial quadcopter would be too heavy to do that. & # 39;
The research is published in Nature.
HOW DOES ROBO BEE FLIGHT WITHOUT REACHING POWER?
To achieve unrestricted flight, this latest version of the Robobee underwent several important changes, including the addition of a second pair of wings.
The change from two to four wings, together with less visible changes to the actuator and gear ratio, made the vehicle more efficient, gave it more lift and allowed us to place everything we need on board without using more power, said the team .
The extra lift, without additional power requirements, allowed the researchers to cut the power cord – which had tied the Robobee for almost a decade – and to attach solar cells and an electronics panel to the vehicle.
The solar cells, the smallest available on the market, each weigh 10 milligrams and receive 0.76 milliwatts per milligram of current when the sun is at full intensity.
The Robobee X-Wing needs the power of about three earth suns to fly, making outdoor flights out of reach for the time being. Instead, the researchers simulate that level of sunlight in the laboratory with halogen lamps.
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