Posted on July 20, 2007 by Jamie Slaughter, with 10003 views
A realistic robotic fly has spread its wings at the University of Harvard. Despite weighing only 60 milligrams with a wingspan of 3 centimeters, the robotic fly mimics the actions of a real fly contributing to the realism of the mechanical insect. Small robots such as this will be used in the future for spying missions or to enter and explore areas which may contain an element of significant danger.
Robert Wood is leader of the robotic department at Harvard and he believes that flies possess the inconspicuous nature required for such missions, much like a fly-on-the-wall. The robot has been given funding and support by leading military organizations in a conscious effort to develop the fly with respect to implementing it within such circumstances.
The fly was difficult to manufacture due to the intricacy of the individual parts. Existing parts did not exist in a compact enough size so the team had to develop them by themselves. The process used was laser micro machining, which comprises of cutting extremely thin sheets of carbon fiber and polymer which remain accurate to the nearest micrometer. Arranging both the carbon fiber and polymer practical parts could be developed. Each part of the robotic fly can bend and rotate to an extent whilst remaining durable. For parts which react to electricity, electro active polymer is used which alters shape when exposed to a current.