Roboticists have been working on Microrobots or RoboBees that can perch on something in midair so they can stay in the air longer. The reason for the newest invention of flying insect-like robots is because many drones run out of energy while flying.
The newest invention of flying insect-like robots will be able to use a sort of static electricity to “perch” and save on the energy they have to keep in flight longer. Think of when you rub a balloon on your head and stick it to a wall and it stays there. This is similar to what the Roboticists will be doing with these new small drones to keep them in the air longer.
This newest robotic invention has been in the making for about a decade now. Each flying insect-like drone is about the same size of a 10 pence coin, according to the BBC.
According to Dr. Mirko Kovac, the director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory of Imperial College in London, who was actually not even a part of the design crew for this new RoboBee, similar drones were trialed in disaster relief efforts. In fact, Dr. Kovac wrote a paper that was published in the same issue of Science that talked about how nature inspired the creation of the RoboBee and other small, flying robots. In fact, the inspiration for these small drones came from bees and birds because of how they perch on things in mid-flight to reserve their energy to stay in the air longer.
Dr. Kovac also explained that these small flying robots, or RoboBees, when equipped with sensors, could alert first responders to forest fires or other natural disasters before they get out of hand.
However, the problem the Roboticists were having was coming up with the “perch.” They didn’t have that problem for long though because they invented something called a “landing patch.” This landing patch can be turned on and off with a switch of a button and will be for the RoboBees to use to preserve their energy. For example, these small drones will have landing patches on them already and can land on something as simple as a leaf to give them a recharge. By doing this, it will also allow the robots to use less energy because they will be “resting.”
This is not everything the team is excited about, though. The Roboticists are excited about the endless possibilities for the RoboBees and the “landing patch.” They say this could mean good things for such things as microsurgery and manufacturing.