By Vamien McKalin | May 04, 2013 08:11 AM EDT
Technology is improving, at times it seems so rapidly that in a few years we'll have tiny robotic insects flying around, watching our every move. What we see in the movies and video games will be right at our doorsteps, and there's nothing we can do about it.
Harvard robotics laboratory has come up with a new piece of technology and created an insect the size of a small paperclip that weighs less than a tenth of a gram. Scientists managed to make this little thing take flight and hover in mid-air like a bee.
"This is what I have been trying to do for literally the last 12 years," says Robert J. Wood, Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SEAS, Wyss Core Faculty Member, and principal investigator of the National Science Foundation-supported RoboBee project. "It's really only 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."
The RoboBee was inspired by the biology of a fly with wings that flaps 120 times per second.
"We had to develop solutions from scratch, for everything," explains Wood. "We would get one component working, but when we moved onto the next, five new problems would arise. It was a moving target."
"Harnessing biology to solve real-world problems is what the Wyss Institute is all about," says Wyss Founding Director Don Ingber. "This work is a beautiful example of how bringing together scientists and engineers from multiple disciplines to carry out research inspired by nature and focused on translation can lead to major technical breakthroughs."
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