Feeds

Harvard boffins cause buzz with robot bee

Our new insect overlords will come in a flat pack

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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”. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.