Thursday, July 19, 2007

Robotic 'Fly on the Wall'

Pic: This tiny robot weighs just 60 milligrams and has a wingspan of three centimeters. It’s the first robot to achieve liftoff that’s modeled on a fly and built on such a small scale. Credit: Robert Wood

Researchers at Harvard have created a robotic fly that could one day be used for covert surveillance and detecting toxic chemicals.
Many have created robotic insects, but Robert Wood's team has created the first one that actually flies. To do this, the team had to develop their own fabrication process to build all the pieces.
Using laser micromachining, researchers cut thin sheets of carbon fiber into two-dimensional patterns that are accurate to a couple of micrometers. Sheets of polymer are cut using the same process. By carefully arranging the sheets of carbon fiber and polymer, the researchers are able to create functional parts.
The entire fabrication process will be outlined in a paper appearing in an upcoming edition of the
Journal of Mechanical Design.
A wonderful project with limitless uses and a brilliant design. DARPA thinks so too, and is one of their sponsors.