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29 July 2007

Real Life Size Insect Robotic


Recently, at Harvard University, a professor named Dr.Robert Wood creates a life size insect like robotic flying machine modeled of a real fly. It only weight 60 milligrams and with a wing span of three centimeters. The researchers say that this small flying machine can one day be used for spies or for detecting harmful chemicals. Whatever it intended to use it for, I’m very impressed and look forward to the day.

"Nature makes the world's best fliers," says Robert Wood, leader of Harvard's robotic-fly project and a professor at the university's school of engineering and applied sciences.

The project is funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research. The research objective is to come up with a stealth surveillance robots intended for the battlefield and urban environments. The robot's small size and fly-like appearance are critical to such missions. "You probably wouldn't notice a fly in the room, but you certainly would notice a hawk," Wood says.

However the researcher find difficulty with the present manufacturing especially when come to creating an efficient movement in a robot roughly the size of the real insect since it couldn’t make sturdy, lightweight parts.

For now, the researcher are using their own fabrication process i.e. using laser micromachining to cut sheets of carbon fiber to create functional parts for the tiny life size insect robot. Some extremely small parts can be made using the processes for creating micro-electromechanical systems.

The motors, bearings, and joints typically used for large-scale robots wouldn't work for something the size of a fly. "Simply scaling down existing macro-scale techniques will not come close to the performance that we need," Wood says.

After more than seven years of work studying flight dynamics and improving various parts, Wood's fly finally took off this spring. "When I got the fly to take off, I was literally jumping up and down in the lab," he says.

Still, Wood is proud to have reached a major project milestone: flight. "It's quite a major thing," he says. "A lot of people thought it would never be able to take off."

This is to me a great achievement done so far in the field of robotic. The recent news on robotic I read recently was the isobot, the world smallest full functioning robotic design by TOMY Corporation, Japan.

I wonder what would be next apart from creating a replica of real size insect. What about a real size bird or animal for example a cow, donkey or monkey. Would you agree? Just kidding.

To get more info please visit: www.technologyreview.com or Robert Wood.

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