RoboBee is a tiny robot capable of partially untethered flight, developed by a research robotics team at Harvard University. The culmination of twelve years of research, RoboBee solved two key technical challenges of micro-robotics. Engineers invented a process inspired by 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.

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. The “DelFly” (3.07 g) was capable of untethered self-controlled forwards flight, while Micromechanical Flying Insect research devices (0.1 kg) had sufficient power for hovering, but lacked self-sustained flight capacity.

Based on the promise of the early robotic fly experiments, the RoboBee project was launched in 2009 to investigate what it would take to “create a robotic bee colony”.

Achieving controlled flight proved exceedingly difficult, requiring the efforts of a diverse group: vision experts, biologists, materials scientists, electrical engineers. During the summer of 2012, the researchers solved key technical challenges allowing their robotic creation, nicknamed RoboBee, to take its first controlled flight. The results of their research were published in Science in early May 2013

The goal of the RoboBee project is to make a fully autonomous swarm of flying robots for applications such as search and rescue, surveillance and artificial pollination. 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 that is integrated with the main body. The 3-centimeter (1.2 in) wingspan of RoboBee makes it the smallest man-made device modeled on an insect to achieve flight.

According to en.wikipedia. Source of photos: internet