Saturday, May 11, 2013

Remote Controlled Robot the Size of a Fly

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"Remote-Controlled Robot the Size of a Fly

Researchers have developed a remote-controlled robot about the size of a fat housefly that mimics a fly’s aerial prowess.

.A developer of the robot, Robert J. Wood, an electrical engineer at Harvard, said it “reproduces some of the key aspects of being able to control flight, stably hover and maneuver.”

The wafer-thin wings of a fly flap 120 times a second. Developing a robot to do the same took more than a decade and a variety of technologies, according to Dr. Wood and his colleagues, who describe it in the current issue of the journal Science.

It weighs just 80 milligrams and is controlled remotely. Each wing can be controlled independently.

To make the muscles, the researchers used piezoelectric actuators — strips of ceramic that expand and contract when an electric field is applied. The frame is made of carbon fiber embedded with plastic hinges as joints. The researchers also layered and sandwiched sheets of laser-cut materials.

“It takes inspiration from children’s pop-up books,” Dr. Wood said. “You can take the composite and fold it into whatever structure you want.” ..."

Read the full article at its source:

Student Focus Question(s): Is the point of the project described in the article simply to create a tiny, flying robot; or are the designers trying to learn something important, too? If so, what are they trying to discover? Do you think there might be a practical use for this robot? What would that be? With the success of this project, what would you recommend they work on next?

After thinking about this, you can enter your response using the "Comments" function, below (to the left of the envelope icon). Feel free to identify your school and/or class....

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