Engineers invented a process inspired how to make flying robot pdf pop-up books that allowed them to build on a sub-millimeter scale precisely and efficiently. To achieve flight, they created artificial muscles capable of beating the wings 120 times per second. To make this feasible, researchers need to figure out how to get power supply and decision making functions, which are currently supplied to the robot via a tiny tether, on board.
For more than a decade, researchers at Harvard University have been working on developing tiny flying robots. The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funded early research in the hopes that it would lead to stealth surveillance solutions for the battlefield and urban situations. Inspired by the biology of a fly, early efforts focused on getting the robot airborne.
Flight was achieved in 2007, but forward motion required a guideline since it was not possible to build control mechanisms on board. UC Berkeley robotics researcher Ron Fearing called the achievement “a major breakthrough” for micro scale robotics.
The concept of micro-scale flying systems was not new. Achieving controlled flight proved exceedingly difficult, requiring the efforts of a diverse group: vision experts, biologists, materials scientists, electrical engineers. The results of their research were published in Science in early May 2013. Engineers had to figure out how to build without rotary motors, gears, and nuts and bolts, which are not viable on such a small scale.
In 2011, they developed a technique where they cut designs from flat sheets, layered them up, and folded the creation into shape. Glue was used to hold the folded parts together, analogous to origami. The technique replaced earlier ones that were slower and less precise and used less durable materials. At micro scale, a small amount of turbulence can have a dramatic impact on flight.