Developers roll out new robo-bee: It can fly, swim, monitor environmental studies… AND people

Sunday, August 26, 2018
By Paul Martin

by: Frances Bloomfield
NaturalNews.com
Sunday, August 26, 2018

When Harvard University first introduced RoboBee back in 2013, it could do little more than fly and cling to walls. Come 2018, the same research team has put out a new and improved RoboBee — one that can successfully dive into and burst out of water.

The latest in a series of minuscule, flight-capable robots, this RoboBee is a mere two cm tall and has a weight about one-fiftieth that of a penny. Yet it’s fully capable of smoothly leaping into water, back out, and then making a proper landing. In order to achieve this, the team utilized a combination of experimental data and theoretical modeling to find the ideal flapping frequency for the wings in the air and in the water. Too low a frequency would make it difficult for RoboBee to fly after submerging in fluids, and too high a frequency would result in the wings snapping off. They found that 220 to 300 hertz was suitable for aerial flight, and nine to 13 hertz was best for water.

Following this, the researchers had to devise a way for RoboBee to break surface tension and leap back into the air. The solution turned out to be a two-step system consisting of a central gas collection chamber and four buoyant outtriggers. Upon swimming to the surface, an electrolytic plate within RoboBee’s gas chamber would convert water into combustible oxyhydrogen which propels the wings and the robot out of water. The outtriggers would then help stabilize RoboBee.

“Because the RoboBee has a limited payload capacity, it cannot carry its own fuel, so we had to come up with a creative solution to exploit resources from the environment,” explained Elizabeth Farrell Helbling, graduate student at the Harvard Microbiotics Laboratory and co-author of the accompanying paper. “Surface tension is something that we have to overcome to get out of the water, but is also a tool that we can utilize during the gas collection process.”

The Rest…HERE

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