World’s Smallest Flying Robot: First Ever Insect ‘Robo-fly’ Takes Off With A Buzz

By Gopi Chandra Kharel on May 3, 2013 4:09 AM EDT

Smallest Flying Robot
The ingenious scientific development was initiated by Dr Kevin Ma from Harvard University and his team, led by Dr Robert Wood. Image Credit: Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chirarattananon, Harvard University (Photo: Kevin Ma and Pakpong Chiraratt)

With every piece of history science creates, it leaves man swamped with a pressing question: Is miracle only a word?

In what appears to have come straight from a page of a thrilling science fiction, scientists have constructed the first ever tiny robot with wings that has taken off in its journey of flying past the ever decreasing horizon of human impossibility.

The tiny piece of marvel that the BBC calls a "Robo-fly" which is built from Carbon fiber weighs not more than a gram and is powered by a super-fast electronic force to flip its wings. Just like a real fly, it lifts off the ground flapping its magnificent pair of wings, uses its electronic "muscle" to zoom across the air in different directions, land on the ground and take off again with a splendid buzz.

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The flying robot built by scientists in Harvard University could eventually be used in rescue and secret military operations, the developers of the electronic fly said. The little robot could, for instance, fly through small holes and through the debris of a collapsed building and give valuable information to rescue teams.

The ingenious scientific development was initiated by Dr Kevin Ma from Harvard University and his team, led by Dr Robert Wood. They claim that the little fly also has a real fly-like ability to swiftly evade any human attempts to smack or grasp them no matter how quickly they try to do so.

The development reported in the journal Science was made by amassing a flat layer of carbon fiber materials and polymer films and than cutting through the needed designs into the sheet using a laser. Peering through a microscope, they gave a delicate finishing to the petite object with a pair of tweezers. The process of making it took not more than two days, reports suggest.

An attached tether supplied the electrical power while flight directions and manoeuvres were transmitted from computers on the ground. When an impulse of electric current hits the "muscles" of the wings, they flap with brilliance.

"We could envision these robots being used for search-and-rescue operations to search for human survivors under collapsed building or (in) other hazardous environments," Dr Kevin Ma told BBC.

"They (could) be used for environmental monitoring, to be dispersed into a habitat to sense trace chemicals or other factors" he added.

Build for the purpose of helping mankind, scientific development such as this never fail to "surprise" humans more than "helping" them.

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