Researchers use flying insects to drop sensors from air, land them safely on the ground

TechXplore  October 8, 2020 In addition to the challenges of achieving low-power consumption and long-range communication, airdropping wireless sensors is difficult because it requires the sensor to survive the impact when dropped in mid-air. Researchers at the University of Washington designed insect-scale wireless sensors that come fully integrated with an onboard power supply and a lightweight mechanical actuator to detach from the aerial platform. The 37 mg mechanical release mechanism can drop the sensor during flight, using only 450 μJ of energy as well as a wireless communication link that can transmit sensor data at 33 kbps up to 1 […]

A soft robotic insect that survives being flattened by a fly swatter

Science Daily  December 18, 2019 An international team of researchers (Switzerland, France) developed a soft robot called DEAnsect and equipped with dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs). They developed two versions: the first, tethered using ultra-thin wires, is exceptionally robust. It can be folded, hit with a fly swatter or squashed by a shoe without impacting its ability to move. The second is an untethered model that is fully wireless and autonomous, weighing less than 1 gram and carrys its battery and all electronic components on its back. This intelligent insect is equipped with a microcontroller for a brain and photodiodes as […]

Tiny vibration-powered robots are the size of the world’s smallest ant

Nanowerk  July 17, 2019 Using two-photon polymerization lithography researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have designed and 3D printed micro-bristle-bots consisting of a piezoelectric actuator glued onto a polymer body. The actuator generates vibration and is powered externally, a piezoelectric shaker beneath the surface on which the robots move, from an ultrasound/sonar source, or even from a tiny acoustic speaker. The springy legs go up and down, propelling the micro-bot forward. Each robot can be designed to respond to different vibration frequencies depending on leg size, diameter, design and overall geometry. The amplitude of the vibrations controls the speed […]

The RoboBee flies solo

Science Daily  June 26, 2019 Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated a sustained untethered flight of an insect-sized 90-milligram flapping-wing microscale aerial vehicle. It uses four wings driven by two alumina-reinforced piezoelectric actuators to increase aerodynamic efficiency and achieve a peak lift-to-weight ratio of 4.1 to 1. The integrated system weighs 259 milligrams, with an additional payload capacity allowing for additional onboard devices. Consuming only 110–120 milliwatts of power, the system matches the thrust efficiency of similarly sized insects such as bees…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE 

The first walking robot that moves without GPS

Science Daily  February 13, 2019 To navigate safely in hostile environment, desert ants assess their direction from the polarized pattern of skylight and judge the distance traveled based on both a stride-counting method and the optic flow. Using this concept a team of researchers in France has designed AntBot equipped with an optical compass used to determine its direction by means of polarized light, and by an optical movement sensor directed to the sun to measure the distance covered. Armed with this information, AntBot was able to explore its environment and to return on its own to its base, with […]

How to mass produce cell-sized robots

MIT News  October 23, 2018 Researchers at MIT developed a method for controlling the natural fracturing process of atomically-thin, brittle materials, directing the fracture lines so that they produce miniscule pockets of a predictable size and shape. Embedded inside these pockets are electronic circuits and materials that can collect, record, and output data. The system uses graphene, which forms the outer structure of the tiny syncells. Tiny dots of a polymer material, containing the electronics for the devices, are deposited by an inkjet printer. Syncells has potential for use in industrial or biomedical monitoring… read more. Video  TECHNICAL ARTICLE