‘Robot Flies’ Learn To Stick The Landing #Biomimicry
Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory research focuses on manufacturing novel robots. They recently developed roboflies that land using static electricity, Via NPR.org
A team of scientists has developed “robot flies” about the size of a quarter that can perch on almost any surface.
The flies were developed at Harvard’s Microrobotics Laboratory, where researchers look to Mother Nature for design inspiration. For years, they have been working on fly-sized drones that could be deployed in groups. The drones could, in theory, be outfitted with cameras and provide multiple vantage points of a disaster, or link up to make an improvised communications network.
The roboflies work, but they also suck up a lot of energy staying airborne. They currently get power from wires attached to the ground, according to a paper in the journal Science.
To try and make the little robots more energy efficient, researchers have figured out how to make them perch on surfaces. Perching is up to a thousand times more energy-efficient than hovering, the researchers say. Perfecting the perch could dramatically lengthen the time that roboflies can operate in the field.
The perching works using static electricity. Each drone carries a tiny copper electrode on its head. When the electrode is energized, it creates a static charge that sticks the robot to a surface. Turning off the electrode sends the little drone back into the air.
And it’s effective most of the time: Occasionally a drone misjudged the landing and fell helplessly to the ground.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.