Meet the tiny drones that would sooner or later do the work of bugs

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Researchers in the USA have presented a new generation of tiny, particularly agile and shock-resistant drones. This type of flying robot could help pollinate certain plants instead of insects, some of which are now endangered.

Research on flying robots led by Assistant Professor Kevin Yufeng Chen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has resulted in a system that mirrors the behavior of insects. In fact, this tiny drone is the size and agility of a living insect. One day these miniature flying robots could be used, among other things, to pollinate plants.

This type of drone is particularly difficult to build, especially due to its small size and the miniaturization of its components. The prototype’s exceptional resilience was achieved through the use of soft actuators instead of hard, fragile actuators that are less shock resistant.

The soft actuators consist of thin rubber cylinders coated with carbon nanotubes. These are connected to the drone’s wings and help them flap almost 500 times per second. Overall, the drone only weighs 0.6 grams, roughly the mass of a large bumblebee.

And thanks to its design, this tiny flying robot can safely collide with obstacles without affecting flight.

This type of drone is not only able to artificially pollinate certain plants when equipped with a camera, but can also be used to explore particularly complex or inaccessible areas, for example after an earthquake.

While this flying robot is largely inspired by insects, it could also help researchers learn more about how insects fly. – AFP Relaxnews