Feeds

Harvard boffins cause buzz with robot bee

Our new insect overlords will come in a flat pack

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Instead of building a robot, why not print it? That’s more-or-less the approach demonstrated by Harvard engineers with an ingenious and attention-grabbing miniature robot bee.

The process, which allows fixed and flexible joints to be created by layering materials in fabrication rather than assembling them, and allowing them to unfold like, as Harvard puts it, a pop-up book or an origami piece?

In their prototype of the Harvard Monolithic Bee (Mobee) – shown in the video below – the engineers put together 18 layers of carbon fibre, the plastic film Kapton, titanium, brass, ceramic, and adhesive sheets – incorporating the flexible hinges that allow the 2.4 mm tall product to “pop up” after assembly.

Harvard’s Pratheev Sreetharan said: “This takes what is a craft, an artisanal process, and transforms it for automated mass production”. Instead of working with tiny quantities of materials under a microscope to assemble the bee-sized robots that are the focus of his work (with Peter Whitney) at the Harvard Microbotics Laboratory, the two doctoral candidates want to create a repeatable machine process for the robots.

As Sreetharan said, the result is that one robot can be built, Autofac-style, by another.

Harvard's flat-pack robot bee - detail

A detail of the flat-fabricated robot bee, showing

the device's transmission. Source: Pratheev Sreetharan

The process puts a premium on the ability to design the interplay between the flexible and rigid components of the finished product, before handing it over to machines to cut the materials, assemble the layers, and finally dip-solder the assembly before unfolding it.

Sreetharan says he has verified the alignment of components in his RoboBees to within 5 microns, and hasn’t et seen a failure – compared to a yield of only 15 percent in hand-assembled designs.

The larger aim of the Harvard project, supported by the NSF, the Wyss Institute and the US Army Research Laboratory, is to create bio-inspired robots that can “fly and behave autonomously as a colony”. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?